UP Police File Case Against "Unknown People" Over Man Who Died In Custody

Altaf, had been brought to the police station on Tuesday morning for questioning in a case filed last week linked to the "kidnapping of a woman and forced marriage"

Altaf's father had said: "I suspect they (UP Police) are involved in his hanging"

Lucknow:

An FIR (first information report) with murder charges has been filed against unknown people over the death of a 22-year-old man inside a police station in Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj district. 

The FIR was filed after a written complaint from Chand Miyan, the father of Altaf, the man who died after allegedly trying to kill himself by hooking the string of his jacket to a tap in the station's washroom.

"We have initiated a departmental inquiry to be headed by an Additional SP. Also, five policemen have been suspended and a magisterial investigation has also been opened. We got a complaint via registry last night and based on this have filed FIR under Section 302 (murder) against unknown people," Etah's police chief Rohan Pramod Bothre said in a video statement.

Altaf's family have accused the police of killing their son, but the cops insist he died by suicide.

It is unclear why the FIR is against 'unknown' people, but there are multiple loopholes in the police's suicide theory, including question marks over a letter reportedly signed by the father (using his thumbprint) in which he seems to absolve the police of any blame in his son's death.

The letter was circulated on social media Wednesday night. It is not clear who released it.

"I am illiterate. I did not know what the contents of the letter were. I put my thumbprint on it at the insistence of the CO (Circle Officer of UP Police). I want justice," Chand Miyan said.

Earlier he said: "I handed over my child to the cops. But I suspect they are involved in the hanging."

Five policemen suspended in this case have been accused of "negligence".

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Altaf's father, Chand Miyan

Altaf was brought to the police station Monday evening for questioning in a case filed last week linked to the "kidnapping of a woman and forced marriage".

In a video statement released on Twitter, Bothre claimed the man "asked for the toilet" and was shown the facility. When he did not return the cops "went inside".

"He was wearing a black jacket and it appears he hooked the string, attached to the hood of the jacket, to a tap in the washroom and tried to strangle himself. He was brought out unconscious and taken to the hospital. He died within 5-10 minutes," Bothre claimed.

NDTV accessed visuals of this toilet, in which the tap is around two feet off the ground and the PVC pipe it is attached to about three feet high.

Altaf was 5 ft 5 inches, which raises questions about how he managed to "strangle himself".

According to the police, the only injuries revealed in the post-mortem were ligature marks around the neck; these are consistent with their suicide theory.

Last year the Supreme Court said all police stations and investigation agencies - including the CBI, NIA, and Enforcement Directorate - must install CCTV cameras with night vision and audio recording. These should cover interrogation rooms, lock-ups, entries, and exits, the court said.

It is not clear, however, how many police stations in Uttar Pradesh have got CCTVs so far.

Yesterday, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) took suo motu cognizance of this case and sought a report (within 15 days) from the Director General of Police and the UP Chief Secretary.

The issue has also taken a predictable political twist, with the ruling BJP's rivals slamming Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's government over "no guarantee of life or property" in the state.

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