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Ex-Army captain's death: Family alleges negligence, Tihar authorities deny charge


NEW DELHI: Days after a former Army captain, arrested on charges of stealing books, died allegedly after jumping off a building in Tihar Jail, his family claimed that there was negligence by prison authorities who denied the charge.

Captain Mukesh Chopra, who was discharged from service in 1983, was arrested on November 2 after being accused of stealing some books on China from the Delhi Cantonment library.

Jail officials said that he had died after jumping off from the first floor of a building on November 7, but the family claimed that he had fallen off the stairs and was not provided immediate medical aid.

They also alleged that he had been wrongfully accused of having links with China and was being interrogated for it. According to the FIR registered against Mukesh Chopra on November 1, he had entered the Centre for Land Welfare Studies (CLAWS), situated at Parade Ground in Delhi Cantonment area, and left the premises after 30 to 40 minutes.

Later, the librarian found some books missing and while checking the CCTV footage, it was found that Mukesh Chopra had stolen them by carrying them inside a newspaper, the police said.

When the former colonel was attending the CLAWS seminar at Manekshaw Centre, he was confronted by Army authorities and the nine books, which were stolen from the CLAWS library, were recovered from his possession, the police said.

The books were identified as China's Defence Policy: Indian Perspective, Strategic perspective, CLAWS Manekshaw Paper number 54, CLAWS Manekshaw Paper number 63, CLAWS Manekshaw Paper number 72, Beyond NJ 9842: The SIACHEN Saga, Paper Tigers: China's Nuclear Posture, A History of Counter Attack war in self Defence along with Sino Indian border and Transformation of Chinese People Liberation Army, Reforms, Restructuring and Modernisation, they said.

The captain was arrested the next day by the police. Rangesh Chopra, the elder brother of Mukesh Chopra, told PTI, "Mukesh and other prisoners were going for counseling at around 10 am when he fell off the stairs on November 7."

"He sustained a head injury and was rushed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital where the CT scan machine was not working. They brought him back to Tihar Jail. When he started feeling uneasy, he was rushed to Safdarjung hospital where he died," he said.

"It is a clear case of negligence by jail authorities and we will file a case against them," said Deepak Tyagi, the lawyer of Mukesh. However, jail authorities rejected the charges.

"When the incident occurred, the victim was immediately rushed to the hospital for the medical assistance within half an hour. There was no case of negligence in this," said a senior Delhi Prison official.

The body of the victim was preserved at Safdarjung Hospital from where it was shifted to Lady Hardinge Hospital for post-mortem which would be conducted on Wednesday, the officials said.