Israel Khan, 30, a resident of Gokul Singh Ka Chak in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh allegedly died in police custody on November 21.
On 19 November, Khan went to the Alami Tablighi Ijtema (International Islamic congregation) which was being held at Eintkhedi in Bhopal district from November 18 to 21.
Two days later, on the afternoon of 21 November, Khan boarded Bhopal-Gwalior Intercity Express and deboarded at Guna railway station at around 8:20 PM. He hailed an auto and while he was on his way to his home, four policemen stopped the auto and detained him.
“He was on a phone call with his mother-in-law at that time. When she heard the commotion, she alerted the family,” said Aslam Khan, 40, uncle of Israel Khan.
Khan was detained at Kushmuda Police Chowki (Post) which comes under the jurisdiction of Police Station Cantt, Guha. When Khan’s father, Munawwar Khan, 55, reached the police post at around 9:10 PM, he was being thrashed by policemen, Aslam Khan said to Maktoob.
“My brother told me he could hear the screams of his son, Israel Khan,” he added.
Aslam Khan alleged that seven people; four policemen — Ravinder Solanki, Shivkumar Raghuvanshi, Pran Singh, Lakhan Jatav and three agents (khabri) of police — two of whom, Saddam and Shaitan have association with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) beat up his nephew. The third agent was Chetan.
When Khan’s father protested, he was pushed aside.
“The policemen told my brother that they were beating him on the orders of the police station in charge Vinod Kumar Chawri. They told him to reach the Police Station Cantt,” said Aslam Khan.
He said they received a phone call from one of the police personnel who told them that Khan was pretending to faint and that they were taking him to the government hospital.
“When we reached the hospital around 10 PM, my son was lying dead on a stretcher and there were injury marks all over his body. There was no police official with him,” Munawwar Khan told Maktoob, fighting back his tears.
“His hands and legs were bruised and looked as if he was repeatedly hit with a baton. There were bruise marks from the belt on his back also,” he added.
Maktoob accessed a video of the deceased showing injuries or bruises consistent with his father’s description. His arms were badly bruised and blackened.
Munawwar Khan said the four policemen were captured in the CCTV camera installed at the front gate of the hospital while they were taking out the body from the vehicle.
When Khan’s family and neighbours started gathering in numbers at the hospital, police personnel in riot gear were deployed. “They tried to pressure us to disperse. The collector met us at Police Station City Kotwali,” said Khan’s father.
“They told us this happened by mistake and that we should not make an issue out of this. They told us to get my son buried,” he added.
The four policemen involved in the incident have been line-attached. Attachment means a temporary transfer to the sub-unit.
On the morning of November 22, the deceased’s body was brought to his home after a postmortem was done and the body was given ghusal.
Ghusal (Ablution), at the time of burial, is done to physically cleanse the body of the deceased.
At around 4 PM, the family was informed that a judicial probe had been ordered into the death of Khan. “The magistrate came and saw the body. There were inconsistencies in the postmortem report and the injury marks on the body. Later, we went to court and gave our statements,” said Munawwar Khan.
Khan was buried at 6 PM on the same day. Khan is survived by his wife, three daughters aged 11, 7, 4 respectively and a 15-month-old son. Khan was the sole breadwinner of the family and worked as a daily wage labourer.
Miles2Smile Foundation, a non-profit organisation has stepped in to provide monetary support to the family. Aasif Mujtaba, the founder of the organisation, said, “We are raising 3 lakh rupees as relief for the family. We will also pay for the educational fees of Khan’s children and help set up a business for his wife.”
Maktoob reached out to Guna Superintendent of Police (SP) Pankaj Shrivastava over a phone call. Shrivastava said Israel Khan died on November 21 and a case was registered against him on November 18. Maktoob accessed the said FIR but it does not name Israel Khan.
On November 18, after Friday prayers, a group of half a dozen men were playing cards in the neighbourhood with Khan sitting near the group. The group got into a verbal confrontation with four policemen. The police later filed a complaint against six men under sections 327, 323, 294, 506, 342, 34 of Indian Penal Code 1860.
“He was taken into custody in regard to that case. Just 20-25 minutes after taking him into custody his condition deteriorated and he was rushed to hospital and doctors declared him ‘brought dead’,” Shrivastava told Maktoob. He confirmed a judicial inquiry has been ordered into the case.
Arbab Ali is an independent reporter based in New Delhi.