A 45-year-old man who was in the custody of the Mandya West police, was found dead in the lockup on Friday morning.

The deceased identified as Murthy of Belthur village near Maddur, was picked up for interrogation in connection with motorcycle theft cases three days back, his relatives told presspersons.

“He was healthy when the police took him for the interrogation. He might have died unable to bear the brutal torture and starvation,” they alleged.

However, according to senior police officials, Murthy committed suicide by hanging at the station. There was no one to monitor him as most of the staffs were on night patrolling duties, officials told The Hindu.

“It would be premature to term the incident a case of police torture. An investigation would be conducted,” a senior officer said.

Meanwhile, Murthy’s relatives said he was innocent and was not involved in any theft.

Murthy, father of two, was a Dalit. Dalit leaders gathered outside the station and demanded suspension of all police personnel who were on duty last night, a high level investigation and post-mortem by at least three senior doctors.

Meanwhile, judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) judge Jyothi visited the station at 9.30 a.m. and inspected the body, which will be sent to autopsy.

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