Chembur beggars' home death: Investigation gets streamlined, home to get doctor, medicines

A second autopsy was conducted on the body of Mohammed Bashir Abdul Hasan Ansari, who was allegedly beaten to death in the Chembur beggars' home, a day after the mid-day investigation was published

mid-day’s September 11 investigation into a Chembur beggars’ home inmate dying after being allegedly beaten up by the ‘caretaker’ of the institution, and the lapses on the part of the home and the police, has prompted large-scale changes.

Also read: Inmates being beaten to death in beggars' home in Mumbai?

mid-day’s report on September 11
mid-day’s report on September 11

This paper had reported how Mohammed Bashir Abdul Hasan Ansari (52) had died on August 30 after allegedly being beaten up by the mukadam (caretaker), Anil Tandel, at the beggars’ home in Chembur.

The home’s superintendent had delayed informing the 45th Metropolitan Magistrate court, on whose orders Ansari had been remanded in the home, and the police had rushed to conduct an autopsy under Section 174 of CrPC, instead of section 176, as it empowers them to begin a probe without magisterial inquest.

The investigations had also revealed how the home did not have enough medicines or doctors for months, and how the paramedics on duty would refuse to even touch the inmates. On September 12, just a day after the report was published, Ansari’s body was sent for a second autopsy.

While sending the body, the police ensured that the earlier mistake of registering the death under section 174 of CrPC instead of Section 176, was rectified. The case was also transferred from PSI Kuldeep Vatkar to Police Inspector (Law and Order) Bharat Pardhe of Chembur police station for further investigation.

A panel of two doctors, Dr S Bhise, lecturer and Dr Abhay Dheeraj, resident doctor attached to the department of forensic medicine and toxicology, Grant Medical College, conducted the autopsy on September 13, which lasted for nearly two hours. The entire process was videographed, unlike the first autopsy that was done at the Rajawadi postmortem center on August 31.

While the forensic surgeon at Rajawadi had concluded in the first autopsy that death was due to ‘pulmonary cox with fatty liver’ (natural)’ the experts who conducted the second autopsy have reserved the final cause of death and have sent tissue samples for hysto-pathological test to the JJ pathology department and chemical analyser findings at the state-run Kalina forensics laboratory.

A source attached to the postmortem center said, “The forensic surgeons did not want to give any final opinion in haste and hence are awaiting the final reports.’ Police Surgeon Dr S M Patil, “I will be sending a letter to the beggars’ home and senior police officials, including the Chembur police station, with a copy marked to Rajawadi postmortem centre, asking them not to send/accept any dead bodies from the beggar’s home, Chembur, henceforth and that deaths there should be dealt with as custodial deaths and autopsy should be done only at JJ postmortem center by experts from the department of forensic medicine and toxicology.”

On the investigation front, PSI Vatkar said, “Though, prima facie, it is known that Ansari was allegedly beaten up by the caretaker, Anil Tandel, we are yet to trace him or any other beggars who were at the beggars’ home that night and may have witnessed the incident.

A police team even visited Mahim police station, who had detained Ansari along with a few others, but they could not trace the other beggars, who were released by court on September 2. We are looking for the beggars and will trace them soon.”

“Our investigation is based on the fresh statement by Mohammed Tarique, founder of Koshish, that was registered after he returned from Delhi. Tarique had, on September 2, written a letter to the Chembur police narrating the episode,” said the police.

Speaking to mid-day, Tarique said, “Though the department is taking some serious steps to improve the situation at the Chembur beggars’ home, other beggars’ homes across the state should also be looked into, so that similar incidents don’t take place there.

Also, it is high time that the government decided on the repealing of the current beggary act. We will take stock of the ground situation shortly and decide on the future course of action accordingly.” Meanwhile, Ansari’s body, which now bears token number 96 in the mortuary at Sir JJ postmortem center may be laid to rest as ‘unclaimed’ by the Chembur police.

“We will be sending a police team to JJ postmortem center on Saturday after taking the necessary permission from our superior officers for the disposal of the dead body. We tried to trace the relatives of the deceased but did not succeed in our efforts,” said PSI Vatkar.

Doc, medicines set to arrive
After the mid-day report exposed how inmates in the Chembur beggars’ home were being treated shabbily and no medical aid or medicines were available at the home, officials have got sanction to appoint a full-time doctor, who will treat patients in both the male and female sections.

Confirming this, Gautam Arwel, superintendent at the beggar home, said, “We have got the sanction to appoint Dr Vivek Salvi, who is an MBBS physician, on a monthly package of R40,000. Medicines will also be made available.”

Arwel added, “Two probation officers, who were posted to the Woman and Child Development Commissioner’s office in Pune, have been called back to the beggars’ home and they will be stationed at the male section. This will help ensure the home’s smooth functioning.”

B T Phokarkar, divisional deputy commissioner, Woman and Child Development, said, “We are still in the process of conducting an internal inquiry and will submit our report to superiors soon.”

When he was asked when the beggars would be shifted to the newly constructed home, which has been lying vacant for months, District Officer Gokul Deode said, “We are in the process of communicating with the Public Works Department and BMC for the completion of necessary statutory requirements.

Also, the power bill arrears have to be cleared before getting power supply to the newly constructed building from the service provider. Once the beggars are shifted to the new building, managing them will become easier.”

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