Police in BJP-ruled Jharkhand is facing widespread condemnation after a Muslim youth, who they had arrested for a beef-related message on WhatsApp, died in their custody in suspicious condition.
According to media reports, 22-year-old Minhaz Ansari died on Sunday and his police allege he was tortured to death by cops during his custody.
A report by NDTV said that when Minhaz was shown to the media on Tuesday last week, he was slumped against a wall and his face covered with a cloth (see photo below).
Police had struggled to explain the circumstances leading to his arrest. Minhaz’s condition had raised suspicion that he may have been brutally tortured, prompting the cops to hide his face from the media glare.
One report said that Minhaz was not able to walk because of continuous beating even when he was being shown to media.
Indian Express reported that the WhatsApp message that prompted police to arrest Minhaz was had started doing the rounds in Dighari village of Narayanpura, in Jamtara district, on 2 October. Minhaz was reportedly the creator of the said WhatsApp group.
Though police have denied the allegations of excesses, they’ve now admitted that there were prima facie lapses on the part of the officer-in-charge of Narayanpura police station, Sub-Inspector Harish Pathak.
He has been suspended and an FIR of murder has been registered against him.
Minhaz’s family learnt that he had been shifted to a hospital in Dhanbad two days after his arrest. On Sunday, they were told he had died prompting them and other villagers to visit the police station to demand explanation.
Harish Pathak allegedly got into a fight with Minhaz’s father and has been accused in a complaint of attempted murder and harassing a woman.
“After Ansari’s death, the attempt to murder charge has been changed to ‘murder’,” a police officer was quoted as saying.
Asked why, given that the police claim Minhaz died of a medical condition, the officer said “it appears that the officer-in-charge (Mr Pathak) did not check on this.”
The news of Minhaz’s death in a state that saw public hanging of two Muslim cattle traders including a 12-year-old earlier this year has generated considerable social media buzz.
Minhaz Ansari was a top Twitter trend all throughout Wednesday evening.
In March this year, two Muslim cattle traders were lynched to death by men belonging to right-wing Hindutva group.
They were killed while on their way to a local Friday market in Jharkhand when they were mercilessly beaten up before being hanged to death from a tree.
The incident took place on early hours at Balumath forests in Latehar district, 100km from Ranchi.
Police had later arrested five people in connection with the gruesome murder. The murder accused had confessed to their crime and given the chilling accounts of how they planned and executed the murder.