The Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday ordered a probe into the death of a Dalit youth, after he was allegedly beaten up by the police for not wearing a face mask as part of Covid-19 guidelines in Prakasam district.

The incident took place in Chirala town on July 18 and the youth died due to his head injury late on Tuesday night. The deceased has been identified as Yaricharla Kiran Kumar, belonging to Thomaspeta in Chirala.

Prakasam district Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal said a case had been registered under Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code (custodial death).

“Following instructions from chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Guntur range Inspector General of Police J Prabhakar Rao has appointed Guntur district additional superintendent of police Gangadhar as special investigation officer to probe the incident. The case has been entrusted to Darsi deputy superintendent of police for an independent inquiry,” Kaushal said.

The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the bereaved family of Kiran Kumar.

According to the police, on the night of July 18, Kiran Kumar along with his friend Shiny Abraham was riding a bike when they were stopped by the police near Kothapeta checkpost in Chirala. “The two were in a drunken condition. When constable Rami Reddy asked them why they were not wearing masks and were driving the vehicle in an intoxicated state, they picked up an argument and assaulted the cop,” the SP said.

The constable alerted Chirala town-II sub-inspector Vijay Kumar, who rushed there and took the duo into custody. “While they were being shifted to the police station in the jeep, Kiran jumped out of the moving vehicle at Narayana School junction and fell on the road sustaining head injuries,” Kaushal said.

Kiran was initially rushed to the government hospital in Chirala but was later shifted to a private hospital in Guntur, where he breathed his last on Tuesday night.

The SP said his father, who was not aware of the factual position, filed a complaint with the police stating that his son was beaten indiscriminately by the police for not wearing a mask. “Preliminary inquiry revealed that Kiran had died of head injuries after he jumped out of the moving police jeep. Yet, we have ordered for a comprehensive inquiry,” he said.

Telugu Desam Party general secretary Nara Lokesh charged the police with beating up Dalit youth Kiran for not wearing a mask which eventually led to his death.

He sought to know whether the Dalits had no right to live in Andhra Pradesh. He reminded the authorities that in East Godavari district, too, the police had beaten up and got a Dalit youth tonsured in the police station premises for questioning the authorities and the government on the rampant illegal sand smuggling in the area.

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