The alleged death by suicide of a 21-year-old Muslim man, while in police custody in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj on Monday, 8 November, has raised several questions.
While the police has claimed that the youth, Altaf, hung himself while in custody, his family has suggested foul play on part of the police.
'My Son Was Murdered': Altaf's Mother
Altaf’s mother has alleged that her son, who had been apprehended on the charge of abducting a girl, was murdered.
“My son had returned from work, sat down to eat food, that’s when the police came and picked him up. They asked him where the girl was,” she told The Quint.
She added that they weren’t allowed to meet Altaf when he was taken into custody.
“Aren’t the police supposed to show the body before the post-mortem? To see if there are any marks. But they didn’t show us his body,” she said.
Meanwhile, Altaf's father Chand Miya also initially alleged that his son had been killed in police custody. "I handed over my son to the cops. But I feel that my son has been killed," he had earlier said.
However, soon after he appeared to change his statement and give a clean chit to the police.
In a video that surfaced two days later on social media, Altaf's father says, “I made the accusations and spoke to the media in anger. When I talked to the doctors, they told me that he (Altaf) had died by suicide. The police got him to the hospital, the doctors tried to treat him, but he couldn’t be saved.”
Father Claims Police Asked Him for Thumbprint on Strange Statement
In a video doing the rounds on the internet on Thursday, 11 November, Altaf's father also appears to claim that the police asked him for his thumbprint on a statement he did not have knowledge of.
He said he was illiterate and could not read what was written before placing his thumbprint on the letter.
The written document, purported photos of which have been shared on social media, claims that Altaf was suffering from depression and had died by suicide.
Altaf’s mother Fatima, however, has maintained that the statement made by her husband was given under duress.
What the Police Has Said
Superintendent of Police Rohan Botre has narrated the account of the incident as follows:
"Altaf, son of Chand Miya, was brought on the charge of running away with a girl. When the police were interrogating him, he asked the policeman to go to the bathroom. The police officer sent him to the bathroom inside the lock-up, and after a while, when he did not come out, a worker went to check. He had tightened the hood of his jacket around his throat, by tying it to a pipe."
"The staff present there opened (the bathroom door), untied him, and he was immediately taken to the hospital, where he died after being treated for some time. Five policemen have been suspended for prima facie negligence during the investigation," SP Botre added.
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