MORE THAN a year after a 53-year-old man died in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh following a scuffle with local civic officials engaged in the Swachh Bharat campaign — he objected to them taking photographs of women defecating in the open — police have concluded that the death was caused by a heart attack.
In their final report submitted to a local court, Pratapgarh police stated that they have not framed any charge against the four civic officials involved in the scuffle against whom an FIR under IPC Section 302 (murder) had been registered hours after the death of Zafar Hussain on June 16, 2017.
“A final report has been submitted to the court in the case and it has been concluded in the investigation that Hussain died of heart attack,” Babulal Murariya, station house officer, Pratapgarh, and investigating officer in the case told The Indian Express.
Officials said a separate report had been submitted in another FIR that was lodged against Hussain, a member of the CPI (ML), by the civic officials under IPC Sections 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty).
Shivraj Meena, SP Pratapgarh, said no charges could be framed against Hussain, either.
“An altercation happened during the incident. Following this, he (Hussain) went home. It has been found that he died later because of a heart attack. In both the cases, final reports have been submitted in the court by police, as no charges could be proved,” said Meena.
Police said the report in the case lodged by Hussain’s family members, against the then municipal council commissioner Ashok Jain and employees Kamal Harijan, Ritesh Harijan and Manish Harijan, was submitted at the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Pratapgarh, on September 4.
The incident at Mehtab Shah Kutchi Basti had caused nationwide outrage with activists severely criticising the Rajasthan government after it cited the preliminary post-mortem report to claim that Hussain died due to cardio-respiratory failure. Subsequently, organ samples of Hussain were sent to the forensic science laboratory for further tests.
“We have lodged a protest petition in the court against the final report submitted by the police,” Amjad Khan, counsel of Hussain’s family, said.
Hussain’s family members alleged that police were shielding the accused. “We hoped that the police will conduct a fair investigation. As is clear from the final report, they have shielded the accused. My brother was murdered and we will approach the judiciary for action. We want justice,” Noor Mohammed, Hussain’s brother, said.
Jain, however, maintained that the civic officials didn’t assault Hussain.
“Hussain misbehaved with us. It’s a completely baseless allegation that he was assaulted by civic officials. He walked home in perfect condition and it was only later that we came to know about his death. Even after he left, we counselled local residents about sanitation-related issues,” Jain claimed.