Jharkhand Police recorded a statement of "confession" from 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari on motorcycle theft that he was accused of, but the cops, however, failed to mention anything regarding the deadly thrashing that he was subjected to by a mob, eventually leading to his death, the Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
Arrested after the assault on June 18, Ansari, who can be seen in a purported video of the incident being forced to chant "Jai Shri Ram" and "Jai Hanuman," died on Saturday after he was declared "brought dead" by doctors at the Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur. Before that, he was also taken to the civil hospital in Saraikela-Kharsawan district.
“We had registered a case against the villagers when we were informed of the beating. We arrested one accused initially, and later 10 others. We found that the officer in charge of Kharsawan police station and an ASI did not handle the matter with sensitivity. They did not apprise senior officers of the situation,” the Indian Express quoted Karthik S, SP, Saraikela-Kharsawan, as saying.
Eleven people were arrested on Monday in connection with the death, and a special investigation team (SIT) has been set up to look into the killing. Two police personnel were suspended in connection with the incident. They were officers-in-charge of Kharaswan and Sini police stations.
The assault on Ansari, missing from the "confession" statement which was later produced before a Chief Judicial Magistrate, is also absent from the FIR registered by the police in the theft case. It is missing even from the initial theft complaint filed against Ansari by Kamal Mahto of Ghatkidih. Mahto has since been arrested by police for his alleged role in the lynching of Ansari.
“We have suspended two police personnel for the lapses. A DSP-rank officer is heading the SIT inquiring the matter and we will get all the facts. There is also a possibility that Tabrez did not say anything to the police on the beating during his confession,” the report quoted the SP as saying.
Ansari's family are demanding answers from the police as to why the mention of assault was missing from the "confession" statement.
“I cannot believe that he never said anything to police about the beating. The police deliberately left it out. Were the police blind that they did not see that he was badly beaten? Why could the doctors not see his pain?” said Maqsood Alam, Ansari's uncle who had met him at the police station. “Very weak and barely able to talk,” is how he describes Ansari in the police lock-up.
In the statement to police, Ansari is quoted as saying that he along with Numair and Irfan, the two other accused, stole a motorcycle “which did not have any registration number”. According to the statement, at one of the houses they targeted, “the door creaked and one of the members woke up and shouted ‘thief, thief’. All of us jumped but I could not escape because I sustained a leg injury… I hid, but the villagers caught me.”
In his statement in the complaint, Mahto has said that after they raised an alarm, other residents of the village woke up and found Ansari.
“There was a motorcycle without a registration number, wallets and a phone, which was later found out to have been stolen… police were called and Ansari was handed over,” Mahto said in the statement, according to the report.
The incident has again brought to fore the horror of lynching crimes that have been witnessed across the country over the last few years.
There were sharp reactions from leaders across parties as well. While, the state opposition Congress said it had formed a seven-member team to probe the incident and demanded a Rs 25 lakh compensation for the victim and a job for his wife, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said such incidents now followed a familiar pattern.
"This is the pattern with almost all lynchings. First, a Muslim is murdered by cow lovers. Then the most ridiculous excuses begin: a 'suspicion' of beef possession, theft, smuggling and love jihad. So much for 'sabka vishwas' when we can be killed over mere 'suspicions'," he said in a tweet.
This is the pattern with almost all lynchings. First, a Muslim is murdered by cow lovers. Then the most ridiculous excuses begin: a ‘suspicion’ of beef possession, theft, smuggling & love jihad— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) June 23, 2019
So much for sabka vishwas when we can be killed over mere ‘suspicions’ https://t.co/G8koC1EHc8
The incident also found mention in the Rajya Sabha, when senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Jharkhand had become a "lynching factory".
"Dalits and Muslims are being killed there every week. Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, we are with you in the fight of 'sabka saath sabka vikas', but it should be there for people to see it. We cannot see it anywhere," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)