*Trigger warning, disturbing descriptions of injuries, alleged torture and death by suicide follow.
“I saw it [an injury] myself, so I asked the policemen, ‘Why is there such a gaddha (dent) on my child’s head?’ His foot was swollen… I can’t explain my grief,” says a woman, perhaps the mother of 21-year-old Altaf, who died in Kasganj Police’s custody on Tuesday November 9. “They hit him, that is why his feet were swollen,” adds an older woman who seemed too numb to cry anymore.
As soon as the news of his death had spread on Wednesday November 10, Uttar Pradesh police were quick to claim that he had died by suicide in the toilet. Kasganj Superintendent of Police Botre Rohan Pramod issued a video statement and claimed that Altaf, went to the washroom inside the lock-up and “there he sought to strangle himself by tying the naada or string of the hood of his jacket to a tap.”
— Md Toushif (@MdToush00786) November 11, 2021
However, Uttar Pradesh police’s claims have been dissected threadbare by journalists such as Shyam Meera Singh who reported that they saw the cell (or a similar one) and the toilet where the police alleged Altaf, a tall young man, hung himself.
मैं उसी बेरक में आया हुआ हूँ जहां अल्ताफ़ को रखा गया था. इसी बेरक में बाथरूम है जिसमें 1.5 फ़ीट की प्लास्टिक की टौंटी है जिसके बारे में कहा जा रहा है कि इसी से लटककर 5-6 फ़ीट के अल्ताफ़ ने सुसाइड की. आप खुद तय कीजिए कि ये सुसाइड है या हत्या? pic.twitter.com/crh5sOoCPE
— Shyam Meera Singh (@ShyamMeeraSingh) November 10, 2021
The toilet is attached to the police lockup in UP’s Kasganj, where Altaf was reportedly being questioned over a kidnapping allegation. The victim Altaf is stated to be around 5 feet six inches of height and the tap that the police claim he ‘hung himself from’ is barely two feet from the ground. The tap is plastic, and in the images shared appears intact, and the toilet bowl is sparkling clean in later images shared over social media.
— Utkarsh Singh (@UtkarshSingh_) November 10, 2021
Many other Twitter users shared disturbing photos of the victim sitting lifeless propped up against the wall of the toilet, tied to a tap on one end and around the victim’s neck on the other, with a thin cord (like that from a hoodie’s cap). The man is seen sitting in one corner of the filthy Indian style toilet on the ground, his legs are stretched out and pointing away from the toilet bowl.
Soon enough #JusticeForAltaf began trending on social media as many users began questioning the UP police’s version of Altaf’s sudden unnatural death. Activist Suraj Jumar Bauddh even asked the cops to “show a demo that how Altaf committed suicide by hanging himself from a tap and jacket string. With full security & precautions”.
I request this IPS officer to show a demo that how Altaf committed suicide by hanging himself from a tap and jacket string. With full security & precautions. #JusticeForAltaf pic.twitter.com/v0WeDJJ2Ff
— Suraj Kumar Bauddh (@SurajKrBauddh) November 10, 2021
— فيردوس Firdos (@Firdoskhan_) November 11, 2021
Police maintain that Altaf, a labourer from Nagla Syed in Kasganj, hung himself
UP Police have stuck to their claim that Altaf, a labourer from Nagla Syed in Kasganj, who was picked up for questioning on a complaint by a Hindu family, who accused him of kidnapping their 16-year-old daughter, died by suicide. An autopsy has confirmed death by hanging, police said, adding they also had a written statement by Altaf’s family saying he was suffering from depression.
Rajeev Krishna IPS, ADG Agra also issued a statement saying Altaf attempted suicide and died during treatment. He added that the five policemen had been suspended for ‘carelessness/dereliction of duty’ and a magisterial probe had been initiated. According to the ADG, Altaf’s body was handed over to his family and the burial has been done.
जनपद #कासगंज में अल्ताफ नामक व्यक्ति द्वारा पुलिस थाने की हवालात में आत्महत्या किए जाने के बाद की गई कार्यवाही के बारे में #adgzoneagra @Rajeevkrishna69 द्वारा दी गई बाइट।#UPCM #UPPolice #agrazonepolice pic.twitter.com/FYqzPara60
— ADG ZONE AGRA (@adgzoneagra) November 11, 2021
जनपद कासगंज में दिनाँक 09.11.2021 को हुई दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण घटना के संबंध में तथ्य । pic.twitter.com/BGtB8hTPRE
— KASGANJ POLICE (@kasganjpolice) November 10, 2021
Altaf’s father Caahat Miyan changes statement
Altaf’s father Caahat Miyan was the first to raise questions on the sudden death of his son who was in police station. He told the media on Wednesday that he himself had handed his son over to the police at 8 P.M on Monday, and followed him to the police station to get more details and a copy of the first information report. He told the media that the police took his son “to the big police station” from the local chowki, and that when he followed the police allegedly warned Caahat Miyan not to come to the station again. “On Tuesday evening, I was told by the local reporters that my son had died inside [the police station],” recalled Caahat Miyan adding, “It happened in the big police station.”
However, hours later, the father is seen and heard on a video identifying himself as if giving an official statement and saying that now “he was satisfied by the investigation” and that he was told by the doctors that his child “had died by suicide”. He goes on to add in the new video, where he is sitting indoors that he was treated well by the police who also came to get his son medical treatment but the young man did not survive.
— Arvind Chauhan (@Arv_Ind_Chauhan) November 9, 2021
According to the journalist who claimed to have seen the postmortem report, “No other injury mark on body of the #Kasganj deceased victim, apart from ligature mark around neck.” However the victim’s family has claimed seeing injuries and swelling.
— Arvind Chauhan (@Arv_Ind_Chauhan) November 9, 2021
He was also reportedly made to ‘sign’ with his thumb impression, a statement assuring that he did “not have any complaints against any policemen,” adding that he will not seek any investigation now or in the future.
….और कासगंज में इंसाफ़ ने दम तोड़ दिया।
कासगंज पुलिस ने अल्ताफ के पिता से समझौता लिखा लिया।
त्वरित न्याय के लिए धन्यवाद, योगी जी।? pic.twitter.com/lzVD5W6hn7
— Surya Pratap Singh IAS Rtd. (@suryapsingh_IAS) November 10, 2021
However there are some basic questions that Uttar Pradesh Police need to answer
Why have five policemen been suspended, if police claim Altaf died by suicide? What ‘carelessness or dereliction of ’ have they been accused of?
How did Altaf, reportedly around 5.6 feet tall, ‘hang’ himself from a tap/pipe barely two feet from the ground?
Why did Altaf’s father give a second official ‘statement’, that he was ‘satisfied’ with police investigations, just hours after suspecting foul play in his son’s death?
Altaf’s mother has reported seeing an injury on her son’s scalp/head. Why does the post mortem report not mention any injury?
What date was Altaf taken to the police station?
(His father says Monday November 9 around 8 P.M, Kasganj Superintendent of Police Botre Rohan Pramod claims Altaf was called to the police station early on Tuesday November 10.)
Was Altaf arrested, or taken in for questioning as his father had said?
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