Jamtara, Jharkhand: A man arrested in Jharkhand over WhatsApp messages on beef that the police found inflammatory died in custody on Sunday. Minhaz Ansari's family alleges that he was beaten up and tortured by the police.
- Minhaz Ansari's family alleges that he was tortured by the police
- Police claim 22-year-old died of encephalitis
- Mr Ansari died on October 7 in a hospital in Dhanbad
When Minhaz, 22, was shown to the media on Tuesday last, he was slumped against a wall, his face covered with a cloth as the police explained to reporters why they arrested him. His condition raised suspicion that he was unable to walk or even stand because of a severe beating.
Four days later, he was dead.
Confronting allegations of excesses, the police have ordered an inquiry but claim Minhaz died of encephalitis. They admit to "lapses" by police officer Harish Pathak, who was in charge of the arrest and questioning. Mr Pathak has been suspended and accused of murder.
Minhaz was detained along with a few others on October 2 over a WhatsApp message on beef that the police said had potential to disturb peace so close to Dussehra and Muharram. While the others were let off, Minhaz, who allegedly started the group, was arrested and charged.
Two days after the arrest, his family learnt that he had been shifted to a hospital in Dhanbad, around 80 km away. On Sunday, they were told he had died.
The family, along with villagers, went to the police station and demanded to know what had happened. 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'," said a police officer. 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."