'Murder, Not Suicide': Muslim Man's Custodial Death In UP Raises Questions

The police claim it to be a case of sucide but 22-year-old Altaf's family say it was 'murder' claiming they have been given Rs 5 lakh as compensation.

Kasganj: Altaf, a 22-year-old daily wager was detained by the Kotwali police in Kasganj on last Monday, November 8, 2021 after a minor Hindu girl went missing. The next day Altaf was found hanging from a two feet high tap through a string of hoodie inside the police station.

The death of the Muslim youth inside a police station in Kasganj allegedly by suicide has raised many questions. The claims by the family on how the series of events unfolded included the date he was detained are different from what the police claim. The details of the case poke many holes in the police theory.

The district police have claimed that Altaf hanged himself inside the toilet; his autopsy report confirms that he died by hanging. He was taken to a local state run community healthcare facility for the treatment.

The grieving parents have claimed that the local police gave them cash as compensation which they do not want. "The police have given us Rs five lakhs in cash but we don't need it. We want justice for our Altaf", said Mobina, Altaf's aunt.

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'Altaf Was Fit And Fine'

Chand Mian, Altaf's father, said that his son was 'fit and fine' when he was picked up by the police

"My son was not involved in anything, he was picked up by the police and he is dead now. He died in the police station and we do not know what happened to him," he said.

"My son was not depressed," he added. It is to be mentioned that Chand Mian, probably in his 50s, had earlier given a statement to the media that his son was under depression and was satisfied with the police action.

Altaf was the eldest of three siblings and helped his father earn a livelihood for the family.

The grieving father said that he was pressured to give a statement that he was satisfied with the police action and gave it in writing to the police.

"My son died and at that time, all I wanted was to get the dead body from the police and bury it with dignity. I was asked to sign on blank paper by the police and I do not know much about it," he said.

Abdul Hafeez Gandhi, a lawyer by profession and former spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party, said, "The police cannot give any sort of compensation in cash and this case should be probed by a sitting judge of a High Court because of the bizarre theory of suicide being floated by the police."

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When Was Altaf Arrested?

The district police failed to clarify to BOOM about the day and date of Altaf's detention. The family claims that police detained him on the evening of Monday which was November 8 (Monday) while the police say he was detained on the morning of November 9 (Tuesday).

Even the superintendent of police did not respond to the query raised by BOOM.

The last time Altaf's mother Fatima saw him, she said, was on November 8. "It was in the evening; Altaf had asked me for food. I was about to serve him when the police came along with the people who had made a complaint against my son," she said.

"This is not suicide but a murder. They took my son alive and returned to me his dead body," she said. "Hatta Katta Jawan beta bheja tha unhone laash bhej di (My son was fit and fine, the police sent back his dead body)," the grieving mother said.

Altaf's house in the Nagla Syed Sirohi area of the congested Kasganj town is now being guarded by over a dozen police sleuths.

Mehraj, the family's neighbour, told BOOM that police picked Altaf on the evening of November 8 at around 19:30 hours. However, the local police said he was detained the next morning.

"Along with the two policemen the father of the missing girl had also come and he was using foul language when Altaf was being taken. Little did we know that Altaf would get killed," she said.

The general diary entry by the Kasganj police shows that they got information about the missing girl on 8 November, the FIR against Altaf was registered on 9 November.

Mobina, Altaf's aunt, said that his parents were threatened when they told the policemen that they will accompany their son to the police station.

A senior cop posted in the same range told BOOM, on the condition of anonymity, that Altaf was detained on Monday but no official entry was made in the police general diary and the date of detention mentioned was November 9.

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Why Was Altaf Arrested?

"This is an open and shut case," Superintendent of Police (SP) Botre Rohan Pramod told BOOM. "The boy died by suicide inside the police station and he used to the string of his hoodie to do this. He was brought for questioning. He excused himself to go to the bathroom. When he did not return, the police checked and found him sprawled with neck tied to the tap. He was rushed to the hospital but he could not make it," he said.

The district police chief said that Altaf had an affair with the minor girl and had accepted this during the police interrogation. The missing girl's family has also shared a five second video clip to the police — of Altaf and the girl together.

Altaf met the girl about three months ago when he was hired to do the tiling work at the missing girl's family, as per the local police.

Altaf's aunt Mobina said that her nephew was not in a relationship with the girl. "My nephew liked playing PubG and he did not have time to do anything else. Had he been having an affair with anyone he would have told me first because he was very close to me," she said.

The missing girl's house remains locked; she is yet to be found by the police. A case was registered against Altaf at the Sadar Kotwali police station under sections 363 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Was Altaf's Family Given Cash Compensation?

On being asked more about the case and why no police case was registered in connection with Altaf's suicide SP Botre Rohan Pramod said that a magistrate enquiry and a judicial probe has been initiated. "Five policemen have been suspended," he said.

Altaf's family has submitted an application to the police to lodge an FIR against the accused policemen. At the time of writing this story, no case has been registered yet. The Kasganj SP denied that police gave ₹ 5 lakhs in cash to the family as compensation. "We have not given any money to the family yet. We have written to the district magistrate for monetary help to the family and let's see," the Kasganj SP said.

However, the victim's family has been claiming that they have received the money in cash and can return it to the police if they want it back. Altaf's father told BOOM that the family has refused the compensation and only wants 'justice'.

A senior police officer confirmed that some money was given in cash to the family in view of their financial condition.

On being asked why the tap from which Altaf allegedly hung himself was repaired in a hurry and if that counts in tampering of evidence the SP said, "The Kotwali where this happened is situated in the heart of the city and is the busiest one. After getting the photography done, the police got the tap repaired."

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Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, has the highest number of deaths in police and judicial custody. The Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Rajya Sabha, earlier this year that 5,221 people died in judicial custody in India in the past three years and 348 people died in police custody. In Uttar Pradesh alone, 1,295 people have died in police and judicial custody.

Post his death, Altaf's house in the Nagla Syed Sirohi area of the congested Kasganj town is now being guarded by over a dozen police sleuths which involves a deputy superintendent of police (DySP) rank official.

Altaf's parents are both sick with low blood pressure and the house is thronged by civil rights organisations and politicians extending their condolences.

Mobina, Altaf's aunt, said that he lived with her in New Delhi to learn the craft of masonry for over 18 months and he had a very helpful nature. Narrating the last moment she saw her nephew alive, she said that the day after he was picked up they received a phone call from a local reporter. When they reached the hospital, Altaf was already dead.

"We were told that he died by hanging himself in the toilet. Our boy did not kill himself," she said.

Saurabh Sharma is a freelance journalist from Uttar Pradesh.

Updated On: 2021-11-15T19:19:48+05:30
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