A document signed by five heads of department of a medical college in Jamshedpur confirms that 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari -- who was attacked by a mob in Jharkhand -- died of a cardiac arrest that was possibly triggered by his severe injuries, including a fracture of the skull. The five signatories are members of a special investigation team set up to examine the reasons behind Tabrez Ansari's death.
The youth was attacked by a mob on 17 June in the Seraikela Kharswan district of Jharkhand on the suspicion that he was a thief. Videos from the spot showed he was thrashed and forced to chant "Jai Shri Ram".
The police rescued him early on the morning of 18 June and took him to hospital. The doctor there took an X-Ray of his legs because he complained of pain there. But the fracture in his skull went unnoticed till the postmortem examination.
The doctors at the hospital say Tabrez did not complain of any pain in the head. In fact, he walked out of the hospital into the police van and was driven to jail.
The postmortem report mentioned cardiac arrest as the cause of death and on its basis, the charge of murder against 11 men arrested for the attack was stepped down to culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
But the clarification by the doctors expands on the cause of death and puts a question mark on the postmortem report and the subsequent police action, which have been widely criticised.
"The fracture of bone is grievous injury caused by hard and blunt object. The combined effect of fracture of bone, pale organs and heart chambers full of blood resulting into cardiac arrest," says the document signed by the five doctors.
Confirming that Tabrez Ansari had died of cardiac arrest, Dr B Mardi, who was part of the team that conducted the autopsy, told NDTV: "The cardiac arrest could be due to stress, which can be triggered by several reasons, injury being one of them".
The fracture could have triggered the heart attack and caused his death, said Dr J Amalorpavananthan, a reputed vascular surgeon from Chennai. "It takes enormous force to fracture the skull of a young man," he told NDTV, He was also of the opinion that such an injury can "herniate" and put pressure on the parts of the brain that controls the heart and lungs. It can cause a heart attack, Dr Amalorpavanantham said.
Asked about the skull fracture being found only during the postmortem examination, Dr Mardi said it was a hairline fracture, "I feel that he did not complain about any pain at that time, it is also possible that our doctors overlooked it," he said.
The postmortem report was questioned on social media as the police did not give any reference to the reason that could have led to cardiac arrest in a 24-year-old man. The police said the medical report "did not give any supporting evidence for murder".
"It's not my report alone. It was done with a team of doctors," Dr Mardi told NDTV.
Karthik S, a senior police officer in Jharkhand, told NDTV that two separate postmortem reports found the same thing - Tabrez Ansari died of a cardiac arrest. "Once we got the medical report, we asked for second opinion from higher level of experts. They also gave same sort of opinion," the officer said.
Asked about complaints by Tabrez Ansari's family that his head had been bashed in, the officer said they could only go by the medical reports. "The experts have given their opinion that he died of a (cardiac) arrest because stress - mental or physical ailment," he said.
The police as well as doctors who initially examined Tabrez Ansari were held responsible for his death by a three-member team led by Saraikela-Kharwan Deputy Commissioner Anjaneyullu Dodde set up to probe its cause. "While the police reached late, the doctors did not diagnose the skull injury correctly," the report, which came out in July, said.