Death in Custody Part 3: Despite Murder Charge, Accused Cops Roam Free
8 police personnel of Ambedkarnagar's SWAT team are accused of beating and torturing Ziauddin Khan, 38, to death.
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"Had they shot him, I would have still been at peace. But they tortured him to death. There were innumerable injury marks all over his body."
Said a distraught Allauddin Khan, father of Ziauddin Khan, a 38-year-old resident of Hajipur Qudrat village in Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh, who was allegedly beaten to death in police custody, nine months back.
The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team from Ambedkarnagar has been accused of illegally bringing him to Akbarpur and beating him to death. It has been nine months since SWAT incharge Devendra Pal Singh and seven other police personnel were booked for abduction and murder.
The Quint's Utkarsh Singh travelled to Azamgarh to speak to Ziauddin's family and get an update on where the case stands at currently, in the third part of the 'Death in Custody' series.
What Happened on 24 March 2021?
On 24 March 2021, Ziauddin left home, saying he was going to visit a relative. When he didn't return, his family called all their relatives, but nobody knew his whereabouts. On the night of 25-26 March, his wife got a call on her phone, saying Ziauddin was unwell. But the caller didn't say where he was or what happened to him. This sudden call left his family tensed.
Then, two people we know got calls from the Pawai police station (Azamgarh), about my brother's ill-health. But they did not mention his location. We approached MLA Subhash Rai. When he called the police station, they said that my brother was dead and his body was at the district hospital in Azamgarh. We went there, gave in writing, and then his body was taken for post-mortem examination.Shahbuddin Khan, Deceased Ziauddin's brother
Despite murder charge, no arrests have been made so far. The accused police personnel have only been suspended. While Ziauddin's family waits for answers and justice.
It has been 9 months, but no action has been taken yet. At least, we deserve to know what my child's fault was. His record in Pawai police station is clean. What will I do now? My young son is gone. He used to earn for the family. There's no one to look after his children now. I appeal to the government. I want justice for my son.Alauddin Khan, Deceased Ziauddin's father
Police Denied All Charges
A day after Ziauddin died, and his family found his body in the hospital with injury marks all over his body, the Ambedkarnagar police denied all charges.
The police were looking for a person named Ziauddin, and our SWAT team had picked him up for questioning. During questioning, he said he was feeling unwell. We immediately took him to the district hospital for treatment. We admitted him at 1.12 am, and at 1.45 am, he passed away. Doctors had told me that he had trouble breathing and had chest and abdomen pain.Alok Priyadarshi, SP, Ambedkarnagar (25 March 2021)
District administration was accused of a cover-up for not following guidelines laid down by National Human Rights Commission(NRHC), and initiating a probe by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate(SDM), instead of the judicial magistrate.
Ambedkarnagar SP Alok Priyadarshi claimed nobody was found guilty in the magisterial probe, the post-mortem report was not conclusive of the cause of death, and the viscera sample was sent for probe.
Ziauddin's Family is Shattered
Ziauddin's family is shattered since his death in police case. His father is mentally very disturbed. His grandparents died of this trauma. Ziauddin has left behind his wife, a 12-year-old son, and a 6-year-old daughter. Till date, they don't know what were the charges against him, and why he was picked up by the police.
He was a simple man. He was healthy and fit, he had no illnesses. What I don't understand is, why did they kill him? Why did they torture him so much? I'm still looking for answers. Is someone's life so cheap that you torture them to death like this? What was his fault? If he was a criminal, we would still be at peace. But he was innocent.Shahbuddin Khan, Deceased Ziauddin's brother
The district magistrate has been accused of not making Ziauddin's post-mortem report public, to suppress the matter. The NHRC had directed the district magistrate to submit the report. But no response yet. The case hasn't moved due to lack of the crucial post-mortem report. And the accused continue to roam free.
Why was he beaten to death? Dozens of criminals, charged with heinous crimes roam free. My son was innocent. I am hopeful that we'll get justice. Look at our condition. We deserve justice. This is an attempt to shield the criminals.Alauddin Khan, Deceased Ziauddin's father
Ziauddin's father and daughter
(Photo: Utkarsh Singh)
Ziauddin's wife and children
(Photo: Utkarsh Singh)
Ziauddin's wife, son and daughter
(Photo: Utkarsh Singh)
(from left to right) Ziauddin's brother, son, father and daughter
(Photo: Utkarsh Singh)
'SWAT Team Trying to Settle The Matter'
Ziauddin's brother claims the police were not even ready to file an FIR. But the family put pressure on the police, with the help of the locals, by saying that they will not even collect the body. That's when they were forced to file a case under
Sections 302 (murder) of the IPC
324 (abduction) of the IPC
Further, the police were not ready to get a post-mortem exam done under videography. The family wrote to the district magistrate. The DM asked the CMO to get the videography done. But months later, they have not even received the report. Ziauddin's brother says the SWAT team are pressurising them to settle the matter. They do not trust the local authorities. They are still hopeful of getting justice.
We knew the local authorities would not help us. We have got no assistance. We gave our statements. But the case hasn't moved. No arrests have been made so far. We have no updates from the police. We have not even received the post-mortem report. We have written to the CMO and the SP, but in vain.Shahbuddin Khan, Deceased Ziauddin's brother
Where does the High Court Stand?
Ziauddin's brother told The Quint that they went to the Allahabad High Court after 10-15 days. The family approached the high court, with no faith left in the local administration. But have not received the crucial
Tanda magistrate report
The high court stated that they can proceed only after they receive the reports.
We had submitted a writ petition in the high court. It was rejected and we were told that since the matter is under the NHRC, it is too early to reach the high court, until the NHRC report is out. There is no such rule that the high court can't give its verdict if the case is under the NHRC. In matters of custodial death, the Lucknow bench of the High Court doesn't seem to understand what the families of the deceased are going through. So, they rejected the writ petition. At least, the high court could have directed to speed up the matter.Ashma Izzat, Lawyer, Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court
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Topics: Uttar Pradesh UP Police Custodial Death
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