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Youth picked up over ‘missing’ girl dies in custody, UP cops suspended

Stressing Altaf could not have committed suicide, his family pointed out that the pipe police said he had hanged himself from was at a height of just two-three feet.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar , Manish Sahu | Lucknow, New Delhi |
Updated: November 11, 2021 10:31:22 am
The water pipe from which police said Altaf hanged self.

A 22-year-old detained over a minor going missing in Kasganj district of Uttar Pradesh was found dead at a police station on Tuesday. Five officials of the Kotwali Police Station, including the SHO, were suspended over the incident, with police claiming that Altaf had hanged himself with a drawstring from the hood of his jacket, using a water pipe in a toilet that is a couple of feet from the ground.

Police said that Altaf, a labourer from Nagla Syed in Kasganj, was picked up for questioning on a complaint by a Hindu family, who accused him of kidnapping their 16-year-old daughter. They said they rushed Altaf to the Community Health Centre on discovering him in the toilet, but he died during treatment.

An autopsy has confirmed death by hanging, police said, adding they also had a written statement by Altaf’s family saying he was suffering from depression.

The girl, a student of Class 10, remains missing, and several police teams are trying to find her. Altaf was buried on Wednesday.

While Altaf’s family said he could not have committed suicide, adding that the pipe police said he had hanged himself from was at a height of just two-three feet, they added they did not want to pursue the matter. Altaf’s father Chand Mian also works as a labourer.

On Tuesday night, Chand Mian had accused police of killing Altaf. But in a video later, he said he was angry at the time and didn’t mean what he said. “I spoke to doctors, police, and came to know Altaf died by suicide. Police took him to hospital as well. I am satisfied with the police action.”

Altaf’s uncle Shakir Ali said they didn’t have the resources to pursue the case. “We are poor people, and just want to survive. We are not in a position to make demands. He was alive and well when we met him… we do not know what happened later,” said Ali.

Kasganj SP Botre Rohan Pramod said: “Altaf was brought in for questioning in connection with a kidnapping case. During interrogation, he excused himself to use the toilet. When he did not return for a while, we checked and he was found sprawled, with his neck tied to the tap. He was breathing when we rushed him to the nearest medical centre, but he could not make it.”

Pramod said they had found that Altaf and the girl had an affair, but had fallen out. “Altaf told us that they had been in a relationship,” the SP said, adding they had evidence that proves this. Sources said the minor’s family had shared a video with police of Altaf with her. Police said the two had met when the girl’s family carried out some construction at their house five months ago, and Altaf was hired as a labourer.

Ali said the 22-year-old did know the girl but had “nothing to do” with her disappearance. “The family suggested Altaf had some role, which is simply not true,” Ali said. On mobile records showing they were in touch, Ali said someone might have used Altaf’s phone to call her.

The girl’s family has denied she knew him.

On Tuesday night, Chand Mian 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 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 police that hanged my son.”

Ali said: “We thought police would question him for some time and send him back as he was innocent.” When they went to give him food at the station, Ali added, Afzal showed no signs of distress.

Police said Altaf’s family had given them in writing that he had depression. Acting SHO of Kotwali Police Station Ramesh Prasad said the autopsy report stated death due to hanging. “The victim was found in a semiconscious state with a string around his neck that was tied to the tap. The tap pipe was slightly displaced as the victim lay slumped on the toilet tiles.”

On allegations of police torture, SP Pramod said: “The (Kotwali) Police Station is situated virtually in the middle of the city. It is a busy thana frequented by people. It is not possible Altaf was beaten up without there being eyewitnesses.”

The emergency doctor in-charge at the Community Health Centre, Ashok Nagar, where Altaf was brought by police could not be contacted.

Claiming Altaf’s family was satisfied with the police response, the SP said: “Even then a case will be filed if there is any complaint against the policemen.” Additional Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar Singh is looking into Altaf’s death, while a magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

The policemen suspended include SHO Virendra Singh, two sub-inspectors and two constables.

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