Youth dies in Bhiwandi police custody, 3 cops among 5 booked

Oct 10, 2013, 00:22 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

26-yr-old's kin claim country bar owner assaulted him, took him to police chowkie where cops beat him up; Thane police says he got drunk and picked up a scuffle with the owner

Tension spread like wildfire in neighbouring Thane’s Bhiwandi area on Tuesday evening, after news of the death of a youth in police custody. The 26-year-old deceased has been identified as Shagir Ansari, a resident of New Azad Nagar, who worked in a power loom factory nearby.

Beaten to death? Shagir Ansari died on Tuesday; (below) his father Fakir Mohammed and cousin Mohammed Anees (in blue) are demanding justice

When Ansari’s body was taken to Indira Gandhi Hospital, a mob gathered there, demanding that five men -- including three policemen -- who allegedly assaulted Ansari be booked for his murder.

Senior police officers agreed to the mob’s demands and a case under IPC section 302 was registered against a country liquor bar owner Venugopal Reddy (35), his employee Zakir and three cops who are yet to be identified.

Family claims
The deceased’s father Fakir Mohammed (45), who was waiting outside JJ Postmortem Center to claim his son’s body, said Shagir was eldest of his six children, and earned Rs 5,000 a month working the loom.

On Tuesday evening, Fakir said, his son was passing by the hooch bar and had an altercation with Reddy, after which the bar owner and his staffers started abusing and assaulting him. “Reddy took my son to the nearby police chowkie where he spoke to some cops, after which some policemen also started beating up my son.”

Fakir said a local who saw Ansari being dragged to the police came to their home to inform Ansari’s mother. “My wife rushed to the police chowkie and found out that our son was locked up in a room. She pleaded with the policemen to release him and kept knocking the door. Minutes later, the door was opened and a constable pale with fright rushed out. Our son was lying on the floor motionless. Two other constables were standing beside him.”

Fakir continued with a heavy voice, “The police rushed him to a nearby hospital in an auto and my wife followed them in another auto. By the time she reached, she was told that he was dead and that the body had been sent to Indira Gandhi Hospital for autopsy.”

Ansari’s cousin Mohammed Anees said his cell phone was also missing. “He was a soft-spoken person. He had no cases against him and had never even been to a police station. He was to get married soon, we were looking for a suitable alliance for him.”

Said Fakir, “We want justice. My eldest son has been killed by men in uniform. All I want is for his murderers to be punished.”

Another version
The Thane police, however, rubbish Ansari family’s allegations. An officer from Shanti Nagar police station said, “The deceased visited the country liquor shop on Tuesday evening, where he gulped down booze from someone else’s glass. An argument erupted and the bar owner, Venugopal Reddy, and one of his staff threw him out. Ansari was annoyed and tried to hit Reddy. But he was overpowered and allegedly beaten up by the public. He was then taken to the local police chowkie and he collapsed there. He was then rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead.”

Senior Inspector C K Deshmukh confirmed the same, saying, “We have registered a murder case against the bar owner, his employee and three policemen, and have already taken Reddy and his staffer Zakir in custody.”

Asked about the policemen involved, Deshmukh said, “At the time of the incident, there were more than seven policemen at the chowkie and the word is that three of them assaulted Shagir. The case is being investigated by the state CID and the truth would be out soon.”

Top cop says
Thane Police Commissioner K P Raghuvanshi said, “The case has been transferred to the state CID and we are waiting for the autopsy report. Accordingly, action would be initiated against the policemen, if their involvement is established.”

He added, “The situation in the area is very much normal.”

Meanwhile, the police have deployed additional force in the area to maintain law and order. A senior CID officer said, “We just took over the case and will probe the role of each and every one named in the complaint, apart from recording statements of witnesses. The autopsy report is also awaited.”

Story so far

Family alleges:
>> On Tuesday, Ansari was passing by the hooch bar when he was beaten up by the bar owner and his staff
>> Ansari was dragged to the chowkie and locked up in a room. When the constables inside opened up the door after his mother’s constant pleading, she saw him lying motionless on the floor

Police counterclaims:
>> He drank somebody else’s booze at the bar and was kicked out. But he tried to assault the bar owner, after which the public beat him
>> He was taken to the police station and collapsed there, after which he was taken to a nearby private hospital where he was declared dead

>> The case has been transferred to the state CID
>> 3 cops, yet to be named, have been booked
>> Bar owner Venugopal Reddy and his employee Zakir have been booked and are in police custody

Past custodial deaths

March 16, 2013
Mohammed Khan (43) allegedly committed suicide in Chembur police station lock-up. He was arrested for being a pickpocket.

March 5, 2013
Javed Hyder Ali (23) allegedly died in custody of Malwani police. He was arrested in a case of robbery.

December, 2012
Rafiq Shaikh (24) died under mysterious circumstances in Dharavi police station. He was arrested in a case of fake currency.

February 28, 2011
Narayan Rathod (38) was arrested by Central police station in Ulhasnagar. He was accused of murder and died under mysterious circumstances.

January 7, 2003
Khwaja Yunus (26), arrested for the December 2002 bomb blast in a BEST bus, allegedly died in police custody.

Autopsy findings
A team of forensic experts conducted the post-mortem that lasted for over two hours. The entire process was videographed. A copy of the video will be handed over to the CID for further investigations.

A forensic surgeon said, “We have seen contusion marks on the deceased’s back and lips, with evidence of cerebral edena with pulmonary fibrocavitation. No other external or internal injuries were visible. The stomach contents gave off an abnormal smell we suspect to be of alcohol. Also, the lungs showed advanced signs of pulmonary tuberculosis.”

Asked if they could ascertain the reason for death, he said, “We have preserved the viscera samples for chemical analysis, which will be sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Kalina. Samples are also preserved for histopathology examination, and will be sent to JJ Hospital’s pathology department. Only after these two test reports are received can we conclusively state the cause of death.”

He added that the state’s Human Rights Commission has been informed of the incident 

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