Updated: September 14, 2019 2:46:18 pm
Jharkhand Police said they dropped charges under IPC Section 302 (murder) against the accused in the death of 22-year-old Tabrez Ansari because it was “not a case of pre-meditated murder” and that he died following a cardiac arrest, not just a head injury.
However, an analysis of the chargesheet, key testimonies and case diaries raise questions about this conclusion. Ansari’s uncle Mohammad Masroor Alam, who rushed to the spot on hearing about the assault, recorded this statement: He heard a member of the mob shout, “Itna maaro ki mar jaye (Beat him so much that he dies).”
Ansari was among the 24 witnesses whose statements are recorded in the chargesheet filed in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court on July 23.
The chargesheet also refers to a preliminary report by the board of doctors that conducted the post mortem, which says if the viscera report does not point to “poison”, the cause of death was a head injury.
But then, case diaries show that police already invoked IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against the accused when the viscera was sent to the forensics lab. In other words, they did not rely on the viscera report while dropping Section 302 from the chargesheet.
Crucially, the case diaries note: “After viscera report, there is a possibility that there could be change in IPC sections.”
On June 18, a mob in Dhatkidih village of Saraikela-Kharawan district accused Ansari of theft, tied him to a pole and assaulted him. Video clips of the attack showed the mob forcing Ansari to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” during the assault.
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Ansari, who was taken in police custody on suspicion of theft, died four days later in a local hospital.
On Tuesday, when asked why Section 302 was dropped from the chargesheet, Saraikela-Kharswan Police SP Karthik S told The Indian Express: “We filed a chargesheet under IPC section 304 because of two reasons. One, he did not die at the spot… the villagers did not have any intent to kill Ansari. Second, the medical report did not substantiate the murder charge. The final post-mortem report said Ansari died due to cardiac arrest and that a haemorrhage in the head was not fatal. The second medical opinion said the cause of death was a combination of cardiac arrest and the head injury.”
Consider key details from the case diaries:
* The board of doctors that conducted the post-mortem listed a head injury among the external injuries, and a blood clot in the brain and “heart chambers filled with blood” as internal injuries. They reserved their opinion pending forensic test results and told the police: “Death does not seem to be a possibility due to these injuries, but it may also happen. The injuries are grievous in nature.”
When the board was specifically asked what the cause of death would be if poison was not found in the viscera report, it stated: “The head injury will be the cause of death.”
* In his statement, Ansari’s uncle Alam said his nephew had called his wife on June 18 morning. “He informed her that he was tied to a pole and being beaten up. He pleaded with her to come and save him,” Alam’s statement said. It said Alam rushed to the village with his younger brother around 6.30 am and saw Ansari tied to a pole with ropes around his waist and getting beaten. “We got scared as many people were shouting and we stood 20-25 feet away from him. One of them was shouting, ‘Itna maaro ki mar jaaye’ (beat him so much that he dies)’,” Alam told police.
In his statement, Alam said Ansari was barely able to move at the police station, and remained “unconscious”. He only opened “his eyes after much prodding”. Alam stated that when he met Ansari in jail the next day, he was crying. “He told us that he had suffered serious injuries on his head and asked us to get his treatment done,” Alam told police.
* The man who shot video clips of the attack, Tinku Mandal, confirmed its contents to police. He told police that he later deleted the clips due to fear. “I heard people shouting in the early hours of June 18. I saw that one person was tied to an electricity pole and people were abusing him. He was being beaten with sticks, but some were also asking others not to beat him. Ansari had a phone and was calling someone on it. Villagers asked him to call his two friends (whom they claimed were involved in an alleged theft bid and had escaped),” Mandal told police. His statement also says that Ansari “was forced to chant ‘Jai Hanuman, Jai Shri Ram’.
‘Hit through night with sticks’
The chargesheet, meanwhile, states that police found that Ansari was caught while he was attempting to commit a theft. It states: “Akroshit graminon dwara usko bandhkar, raat bhar ewam subah bhi dande se peeta gaya. Usse uski dharmik bhavna ke virudh ‘Jai Shri Ram, Jai Hanuman’ ka naara lagaya gaya (He was tied up by the angry villagers, and beaten with sticks the whole night and in the morning. They forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram, Jai Hanuman’ against his religious beliefs),” the chargesheet said.
On Ansari’s injuries, it mentions the head injury and haemorrhage and states that the board “kept their opinion reserved on the cause of death and the viscera has been to the FSL”. It states: “In this incident, till now IPC 304 and other sections is made out against the accused.”
Altaf Hussain, lawyer for Ansari’s wife Sahista Parween, says he has filed a “protest petition” in court on the murder charges being dropped. “Also, the viscera report has been submitted in the sealed cover to the court. The details have not been mentioned in the chargesheet,” he said.
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