Two men, picked up in a case of robbery and murder, were allegedly tortured to death in police custody in Sitamarhi on March 7. Photos and a video clip of their bodies being washed before their burial showed marks of nails hammered into them. Their families have shared these with the police, an FIR has been registered for murder of the two and five policemen have been suspended.
Confirming the custodial death and calling it “unacceptable,” Bihar Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey told The Indian Express: “We suspended five policemen including Chandra Bhushan Singh, the officer-in-charge of Dumra police station, in Sitamarhi. They will also face departmental action. If they do not surrender, they can even face dismissal. We have issued a show-cause notice to Sitamarhi SP who has been transferred.”
Curiously, no policeman has been named in the FIR so far.
Early on March 6, records show, Gufran Alam (30) and Taslim Ansari (32) were picked up by police from Ramdiha village in connection with the theft of a motorcycle and murder of its owner Muzaffarpur resident Rakesh Kumar.
While Taslim faced four criminal cases in East Champaran and Sitamarhi and was out on bail, Gufran had no prior criminal record.
Ramdiha village falls in the Motihari Lok Sabha seat represented by BJP leader and Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gufran’s father Munnavar Ali (58) said: “We were all asleep when five police jeeps from the local Chakiya police station stopped at our house and asked for Gufran. They said they wanted to question Gufran in connection with a case. Before we could ask anything, they took him away and later also picked up fellow villager Taslim Ansari.”
Ali, along with his brother Sanawar Ali and other villagers, reached Chakiya police station at around 3 am on March 6. But they did not find Gufran and Taslim there. “We returned home and visited the police station again a few hours later. A local police informer told us about Gufran and Taslim were at Dumra police station. He got Sanawar Ali to speak with Gufran who could barely talk. He said that police had severely beaten him and broken his legs.”
Gufran is the father of two children Wakaf (5) and Neha Tarannum (3).
Gufran and Taslim’s families reached Dumra police station at 5 pm on March 6. “We saw only two women constables. When we asked about Gufran and Taslim, they sent us to Sadar Hospital. There, we were told that both were dead and their postmortem had been conducted. We were not allowed to see the bodies. The bodies were handed over to us the next day,” said Gufran’s father-in-law Mohammed Ayub Alam.
When the bodies were being washed for the burial, relatives said they discovered the wounds and the extent of torture. Sabbil Rooney, a college student who is helping the families with the paperwork, said: “We have filmed videos and have still photographs of the injury marks caused by iron nails being hammered in. The nails were hammered into their thighs, soles and wrists. The legs of both victims were severely injured. We are waiting for the postmortem report for specific details.”
Gufran, who had worked as an electrician in Qatar, returned a year ago and had been planning to go back to Doha where his two brothers also work as electricians. “My son delayed his visit because he wanted to get his son admitted to a school this year,” said Munnavar Ali. The family has asked for a compensation of Rs 50 lakh and a job for Gufran’s wife.
Taslim’s brother works in Saudi Arabia as an electrician. Gufran’s family owns a pucca house and has 14,000 square feet of agricultural land while Taslim’s family lives in a 400 sq feet thatched house.
Said Taslim’s father Molazim Ansari (65): “It was around 1.15 am when the police came. The policemen ransacked our house and took away Taslim who worked as a daily wager.”
“We have no ration card, no Indira Awas house. And even if my son faced a criminal case, it’s the court’s job to deliver the verdict. How can police kill him like this? Is this rule of law the Chief Minister has been talking about?” said Ansari.