“It is clear from incidents like the death of Altaf in Kasganj, Arun Valmiki in Agra, Rajesh Kori in Sultanpur in police custody that the protectors have become killers. UP tops the country in terms of police custodial death. The law and order situation is in complete disarray under the BJP rule. No one is safe here,” said Priyanka. Gandhi on custodial death of 22 years old Altaf at Kasganj police station on Tuesday.
Narrating the sequence of events, Kasganj’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Rohan Pramod Botre said, “One Altaf (of Nagla Syed locality) was called for questioning in Kasganj police station in a case related to IPC section 363 (kidnapping) and 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel her marriage) on Tuesday morning…During interrogation, he requested the policemen to let him go to the washroom and was allowed to use the washroom inside the lockup…He was wearing a black jacket. He tried to strangulate himself with a string of the (jacket’s) hood that he tied to the tap of the toilet. When he did not return, the policemen went inside and found him unconscious. He was rushed to the community health centre in Ashok Nagar, where he died.”
On Tuesday night, Chand Mian, father of Altaf had demanded that police answer how Altaf had died. “Police told me they suspected my son in the case and wanted to question him. I handed my son to the police, who came to my house. When I went to the station, they turned me back. After 24 hours, police say my son hanged himself. It was the police that hanged my son,” reported Indian Express
The police said that “An autopsy has confirmed death by hanging. Adding to it Police said, they also had a written statement by Altaf’s family saying he was suffering from depression.”
However, the police version does not match the circumstances under which the 22-year old died. How come a young person of more than 5 feet height hanged himself with the plastic tap which is merely 2 feet in height from the ground, remains an unsolved mystery?
Journalist Ajit Anjum asks a similar question in his video report made on Altaf’s custodial death. He says even movie stories are sometimes believable. But will any of you believe in this police theory?
Neelesh Misra, the founder of Gaon Connection questioned the police claims as well, he writes, “How does a person choke himself from a string tied to a tap? Would urge the SP to elaborate. And if he indeed (allegedly) die by suicide, then why have five policemen been suspended? Get your story straight please. Uncanny, reading this a day after watching Jai Bhim.”
Another tweeter user, Syed Mobin who identified himself as an AIMIM politician from Maharashtra tweets, “I request UP Police officer to show a demo that how Altaf committed suicide by hanging himself from a tap and jacket string. With full security & precautions.”
This is not the first time such questionable deaths has been reported in Uttar Pradesh. The state under the governance of Aditynath has a history of suspicious deaths and encounters.
Sharjeel Usmani, a Muslim Rights activist writes, The Chief Minister openly said ‘thok denge’. Altaf’s extrajudicial murder is manifestation of the Chief Minister’s words.
Not very long just three weeks ago custodial death of Arun Valmiki made headlines when Agra police cited the heart attack as the reason behind the death of a Dalit man under the custody of Jagdispura police station of Uttar Pradesh.
State’s law and order get heavily criticized and despite that, another custodial death was reported within a month.
In terms of data on custodial deaths, Uttar Pradesh tops in the country by having 12 police custodial deaths (PCD), and 452 judicial custodial deaths (JCD) in 2018-19, 3 PCD and 400 JCD in 2019-20, 8 PCD and 443 JCD in 2020-21, said Nityanand Rai, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs. On July 27 2021 he released state-wise data of custodial deaths while answering his party colleagues in the Monsoon session of Lok Sabha.
Reporting on the custodial death in the state, The Daily Guardian quotes a Senior Forensic Medicine Doctor of KGMC, Lucknow, on the condition of anonymity. The doctor said, “These custodial deaths are not even a third of actual deaths. What police do is that when a person dies, they take him to the hospital and then show on paper that he died inside the hospital and doctors write ‘died in hospital’ in the report.”