In protest of the death of Faiz Usmani, who died following his interrogation by the Maharashtra ATS in connection with the July 13 serial blasts, residents shut all the shops and establishments in the Shivaji Nagar-Govandi area yesterday.
The situation took a turn for the worse as Faiz's family members alleged that he died because he was tortured in police custody.
For their part, the police, fearing a backlash in the Muslim-dominated locality on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat yesterday, deployed extra forces in the suburb.
Speaking to media persons outside Shivaji Nagar police station yesterday, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Rajnish Seth said, "We have deployed extra police in this area because it is minority-dominated.
We fear that something serious may happen, keeping in mind the festival of Shab-e-Barat. I have come here to keep tabs on the situation."
Faiz, the brother of 2008 Gujarat blast suspect Afzal Usmani currently behind bars, lives in the same neighbourhood as that of Mohammad Ali and Dr Salman Farsi accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case. He died at 1.30 am on Sunday at Sion hospital, following interrogation by cops.
Faiz was picked up by the Chembur unit of the Crime Branch for questioning in the afternoon and was admitted to Sion hospital in the evening after he allegedly fell sick.
Faiz's son Azeem said, "My father was picked up for interrogation by cops and was pressurised, even though he wasn't involved in any criminal activity. They are to blame for this."
He added, "He was at his teashop in Govandi at 3 pm on Saturday, when a Crime Branch official arrived and picked him up.
An hour later, a police official informed us over the phone that due to a chest problem, my father had to be admitted to Sion hospital. When we reached the hospital, my father was in the ICU. Then he was shifted to the general ward, and later to the ventilator, before he was declared dead."
However, spokesperson of the Mumbai Police, DCP Nisar Tamboli, rubbished the allegations. He said that a CID team, currently in Pune, would conduct an inquiry into Faiz's death. "Allegations by his family members are baseless," he said.
His body was sent to JJ Hospital for postmortem to ascertain the exact cause of death. Faiz is survived by his wife, a daughter, and five sons. His relatives and neighbours said that he was already suffering from hypertension and had not taken his medicines for the last three-four days.
Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi, MLA of the locality, who visited the hospital, said, "I will meet the home minister and the chief minister. We all want that the July 13 blasts culprits to be arrested and hanged. But the police cannot harass a common man to such an extent that he bursts a vein because of all the tension."
According to sources in Sion hospital, Faiz died due to brain haemorrhage, usually seen when a person is exposed to some kind of a shock.
"Usmani died at 1.30 am while he was under treatment for hemi-paresis and hypertension in the Lokmanya Tilak Hospital," doctors said. A preliminary investigation showed no bodily injuries, they added.
Dr Sandhya Kamat, the hospital's dean, said, "He was brought to the hospital at around 5:30-6:00 pm on Saturday evening.
In the CT scans, our doctors observed massive bleeding in his brain region. However, only post mortem reports will be able to ascertain the cause of death."
The report of Faiz Usmani's postmortem, conducted by a team of forensic doctors at JJ hospital, reveals that there were no physical injuries to the body.
However, there was an intra-cerebral haemorrhage in the brain region, owing to the rupture of the cerebral artery. The doctors have preserved the brain matter for neuro-hystopathology.
Story first published:
July 18, 2011 11:45 IST