The Unnao district administration on Saturday began the process of exhuming the body of 32-year-old Yunus Khan, a witness in the murder case of the father of a teenage girl raped in the district last year.
Heavy police force was deployed in Makhi area as Khan’s family had opposed the exhumation claiming it was against Sharia law, and had protested with other local residents earlier in the day.
Unnao SP Harish Kumar had sought permission from the district magistrate for exhumation on Friday on the basis of an inquiry report by Circle Officer, Safipur (Unnao), Vipin Ranjan Rai.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Hasanganj (Unnao), Suraj Kumar Yadav said, “We tried our best to convince the family, but they did not agree. We also called the shahar qazi to convince them, but he too failed in his attempt. Since it was essential to exhume the body, we started the process in the evening in the presence of the shahar qazi to ensure that all rituals are followed under Sharia law.”
“No family members of Yunus were present,” Kumar said, adding that the body would be sent for an autopsy.
Khan, who used to run a grocery shop, had died on August 18. His family had buried the body without informing the CBI, which is probing the murder case of the rape victim’s father. While Khan’s family claimed he died of a liver disease, the uncle of the rape victim alleged he was murdered.
Jailed BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was arrested on April 13 this year on charges of raping the girl in June last year. Her father had died in judicial custody on April 9. CBI had chargesheeted five persons including Singh’s brother Atul Singh for allegedly killing the rape victim’s father. The other four accused are Vineet Mishra, Birendra Singh alias Bauwa Singh, Ram Sharan Singh alias Sonu Singh and Shashi Pratap alias Suman.
“Yunus was among the 12 witnesses who told CBI they witnessed the accused thrashing the girl’s father when he reached the village on April 3. Among the 12 witnesses are six family members of the deceased (father), while the remaining are neighbours,” said a CBI officer.
“In his statement to CBI, Yunus had claimed to have witnessed the accused catching hold of the rape victim’s father in front of his shop and thrashing him. The sequence of assault began in front of Yunus’s shop. The accused later paraded the girl’s father for a stretch of 300 mts. Other witnesses also claimed to have seen the accused thrashing Yunus,” the officer added.
“Yunus’ statement was not recorded before a magistrate. Since there are other witnesses, his death will not impact the case. The trial is yet to begin,” the officer said.
On August 22, the uncle of the rape victim had submitted an application to Unnao SP Harish Kumar, alleging that Yunus was killed as part of a conspiracy and demanded that his body be exhumed and sent for autopsy to ascertain cause of death.
The next day, Yunus’ wife Sabina Khatoon had submitted another application with the SP office claiming that her husband had been suffering from liver cirrhosis and died a natural death at his house on the morning of August 18. She also alleged that the victim’s uncle visited her house on August 22 night and offered them Rs 8 lakh to give false information about Yunus’ death.
“Rumours that Yunus was given poison are false. He was suffering from a liver ailment for the last four years and was recently admitted in a hospital in Kanpur where doctors had over a month ago declared that he won’t recover,” said Yunus’s cousin Mohammad Yusuf.
“The girl’s uncle had offered us Rs 8 lakh and asked us to submit an application prepared by him to the police. Since it mentioned false information about his death, we refused. He then threatened us. If we are satisfied that there is no foul play, why are police working on the request of the girl’s uncle?” he asked.
Khan’s family also claimed they were not aware that Yunus was a witness of the CBI.
UP DGP Om Prakash Singh said, “Since the murder case was investigated by the CBI, I sent letter to the director informing him about Yunus’ death and gave details about the controversy over it.”