Days after a mob tied him to an electricity pole, beat him up and allegedly forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram…Jai Hanuman” after accusing him of committing a theft, Tabrez Ansari (22) died on Saturday.
A video of the incident, which took place in Dhatkidih village of Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district early on Tuesday, shows the mob beating Ansari and asking him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. Ansari is seen chanting and pleading with the mob to stop the assault.
On Saturday morning, Ansari, who was in judicial custody for theft, complained of ill-health and was rushed to Sadar Hospital and then to Tata Main Hospital, Jamshedpur, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Sadar Hospital Civil Surgeon A N Dey said Ansari could have died of a “heart attack or blockage”, but added that the exact cause would be ascertained after post-mortem. Ansari’s family members alleged he died because he was “mercilessly beaten” for four hours.
Police reached the spot where Ansari was tied up around 6 am, SP Karthik S said. Ansari was then taken to a police post. According to court documents, his statement was recorded at 9.30 am when he admitted that he had committed the theft with two other men. Thereafter, he was produced in court and remanded in judicial custody.
Police said a case was registered against Ansari under IPC Sections 457 (lurking house-trespass or housebreak by night), 380 (theft), 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) and others.
Complainant Kamal Mahto has told police that he and his family members woke up to a sound and found three men on the rooftop of his neighbour’s house around 2 am on June 18. Mahto complained that when they raised an alarm, the three jumped from the roof. Two of them escaped but Ansari hurt his leg and could not run — he hid in a bush where the villagers found him, Mahto has said.
The complaint states that the villagers found in Ansari’s possession a motorcycle without a registration number, wallets and a phone later identified as stolen. It says police were informed and Ansari was handed over to them. However, the statement and the FIR do not mention the assault.
Ansari’s uncle Maqsood Alam said his nephew did not have any criminal record. “Let us assume he was caught for theft, but tying him up and beating him for hours and then asking him to chant Jai Shri Ram is shocking,” Alam said. “His mistake was that he was a Muslim, otherwise he would have been alive.”
On Saturday, when Ansari was rushed to Sadar Hospital, Alam was called there. He claimed that even after Ansari’s death was announced, he was alive. He claimed, “An ECG was done and he was found alive. We asked them to shift him to Tata Main Hospital. Later at TMH, he was finally declared dead.”
Civil Surgeon Dey, however, denied Alam’s claim. “He was dead and an ECG was done to substantiate. We allowed them to take the body to TMH for their satisfaction,” Dey said.
Deputy Commissioner Chaavi Ranjan said that after receiving information about Ansari’s death, he ordered inquest proceedings. “On reaching there, our officer said he was breathing and was being taken to another hospital…We have ordered an inquiry and will find out lapses, if any, on part of the police or doctors.”
Stating that the police should have acted promptly, Ranjan said, “All perpetrators will be booked and justice will prevail.”
Police have lodged a case against the villagers under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religions or religious beliefs), among others. Police said they have arrested one person in this connection so far. SP Karthik S said, “We are investigating the matter as these cases are on a rise these days.”
At Ansari’s home in Kadamdiha, his wife sat speechless. They married in April and were set to leave for Pune, where Ansari worked as a welder, relatives said. “Ansari’s parents are dead. Now he too is dead. What will she do,” a relative asked.