NEW DELHI – A Muslim man, Mahtab, was allegedly killed by an inmate, Zakir, inside Tihar Jail on June 29, according to the police FIR. But his family and their lawyer alleged police complicity in the crime.
Mehtab, who was in detention over rape charge since 2014, was awaiting verdict in the case, according to his lawyer Afzal Khan. He said they were hopeful of his release “since the prosecution failed to prove the allegations” against him.
Speaking to Clarion India, Khan said that they were suspicious of police role in Mahtab’s murder. His claim reflects from the complaints Mahtab would had made against the police accusing them of harassment and demanding money. “Whenever I met Mahtab, he would say the police are harassing him and asking for money.”
A few months after he was jailed, Aftab suffered paralysis, Khan recollected. Then, he moved the court in Saket for parole. But his request was rejected several times.
“Then, I told the court that if he is not granted parole, he may die,” the lawyer said.
Mehtab was released in early 2016. For several months he was out and recovered “to a large extent”. But after the change of judge, Mahtab was jailed again. And his ordeal at the hands of police began.
“They (the jail police) don’t let me meet the doctor. They give me a tablet to overcome the pain,” Khan recounts Mahtab telling him.
“He had developed several health issues including hematuria (blood in urine) which required regular medical attention, but the police would demand money from him for any little relief like meeting a doctor,” the counsel recounted.
Khan submitted several applications before the court, which are on record, to direct the jail authorities to allow medical attention to Mahtab. “The court would ask for a health report which the jail authorities would send stating that he was normal.”
The family claims they would send Mahtab Rs 10,000 every month to meet his expenses “including paying to police officials.”
According to a report on Twocircles.net, Mahtab’s brother Abdul Salam, a police constable, accused the police of harassing and beating Mahtab routinely during the past several months.
He had told his family about the problems he was facing inside the jail due to the police. Days before his death, his family had sent him Rs 4,000 to which he had said it was too little to meet his requirement. After a few days, the family received the fateful call. The police told them to come and receive his corpse for last rites and burial.
The lawyer says the police version that he was murdered by a certain Zakir is not believable, “He never mentioned any Zakir whenever I spoke to him.” The investigation officer, he suggested should go through the CCTV footage of the day when Mahtab was murdered to ascertain whether the police claims are true.
Two days before the death of Mahtab, a rights group, National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT), published a damning report which revealed that on an average five people die in police custody every day in India. In year 2019, the report further said that 1,731 people died in custody, many of them due to torture.