It has been over a year since 45-year-old Alimuddin Ansari was lynched by a mob of cow vigilantes in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand, but police are yet to submit a report to establish where he died — a crucial piece of information that has denied Alimuddin’s family his death certificate.
On June 29, 2017, Ansari was intercepted in Ramgarh town of Jharkhand by a group of cow vigilantes and assaulted. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Alimuddin’s son Shahjad Ansari, in his early 20s, told The Sunday Express, “We have been running around — to the police station, the office of the Sub-Divisional Officer, the office of the Deputy Commissioner and also RIMS (Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences) in Ranchi. My father had some savings in insurance schemes. We need money for our sister’s wedding, but we can claim the insurance money only if we have a death certificate.” Alimuddin was the sole earning member of the family.
While the family was ping-ponged from one office to another, a lot happened: a fast track court convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 of the 12 accused, and at least nine of them got bail from the Jharkhand High Court in June this year. A controversy erupted after some of the convicts who walked out on bail were honoured by Union minister Jayant Sinha.
The first challenge for the lynching victim’s family was to get officials to call the dead man by his official name. While police registered an FIR naming “Alimuddin Ansari” and his associate, “Kalimuddin”, on charges of illegally trading in beef, the inquest report, the requisition for post-mortem and the post-mortem report at RIMS were all made in the name of an “unidentified, male person”.
When asked why these documents did not mention Alimuddin’s name even though he had given a statement, Kamlesh Paswan, then in-charge of Ramgarh police station and now Circle Inspector (Mandu), said, “He only told me his name and address. We hadn’t verified those details then. Therefore, his documents initially described him as ‘unidentified’.”
“That led to a lot of confusion. After doing the rounds of the court and offices, my father’s name (Alimuddin) was finally added to the documents. Still, we were not able to get a death certificate because the officials asked us to get a statement on where he died,” said Shahjad.
Shahjad and his mother Mariam Khatoon then went to the urban local body office, the sub-divisional office and to the Ramgarh police station to find out where he died. “All they would tell us is that the death occurred in the police vehicle, on their way to hospital. They didn’t give us the exact location,” he said.
Three weeks ago, the family again met Ramgarh Deputy Commissioner Rajeshwari B, who, Shahjad said, told them that the death certificate would be issued in a week. “She had asked us to apply to the sub-divisional officer and submit a copy of our application to her,” he said. But the SDO asked them to get the place of death from the police station, he added.
The Deputy Commissioner could not be reached for her comment.
The family even got the court deposition of the police personnel, who took Alimuddin to RIMS in Ranchi, as evidence of the place of death. But that was not accepted, said Shahjad.
SDO (Ramgarh) Anant Kumar said, “In this case, we do require the place of death. And since the man was in police custody, it is police who should give that information. We have sought a report. Once that is available, we will issue the death certificate.”
Officer-in-charge of Ramgarh police station Rajesh Kumar told The Sunday Express there was “no problem” and that a report had been sent to the seniors.
However, Ramgarh Superintendent of Police A Vijayalakshmi said, “Issuing death certificates is not in our jurisdiction. Please get in touch with the SDO concerned.”
When asked about a report being sought from the police on Alimuddin’s place of death, Vijayalakshmi said, “The report on that issue has been sent twice earlier.”
R K Srivastava, director of RIMS medical college where the post-mortem procedure was conducted, said the hospital only gives out a document saying he was ‘brought dead’. “The question of where the death has occurred is not in its (hospital’s) purview,” he said.