A blot on the face of Telangana state –Nexus of Police and Politicians – Demand for Judicial probe and action against the police personnel
Fact finding team comprising Lateef Mohd. Khan, Ashala Srinivas, Kaneez Fathima, Adv. Greeshma Rai, Adv. Mohd. Ismail Khan, Adv. Kausar Shaik, Charan K.S., Rahul Thal visited Nizamabad district to find out the details of custodial death of a Muslim youth Shaikh Hyder, a daily wage labourer who died in the town-1 police station of Nizamabad district of Telangana state.
Nizāmabād District is located in the north-western region in the state of Telangana, India. Nizāmābād is the current and official name of the district. The city is founded by the Nizam ul Mulk the fourth of Asif Jahi dynasty so Nizamabad means city of Nizam where Muslims comprise 40 percent of total population. The Nizamabad Municipal Corporation is the municipal governing body of the city of Nizamabad in the Indian state of Telangana. The municipal corporation consists of democratically-elected members headed by a mayor and administers the city’s infrastructure and administration. Nizamabad Municipal Corporation is the third biggest city in Telangana after Hyderabad and Warangal. The Nizamabad City Police is the local law enforcement agency for the city of Nizamabad and is headed by the Dy. Inspector General of Police Sri Y.Gangadhar, I.P.S., and Superintendent of Police Rajshekha Reddy IPS . The city has 5 lakh population and 50 municipal divisions. Member of Parliament for Nizamabad is Ms.K. Kavita and MLA is Mr. Ganesh Gupta both belonging to TRS party. Though there are 16 MIM corporators and 10 TRS in civic body of Municipal Corporation but Akula Sujatha of the TRS and Faheem of MIM are serving as the mayor and deputy mayor.
Facts of the case:
Nizamabad Muslims have large significance in politics as well as in social and education fields. But in spite of this, there is a family living below poverty line; in fact their condition is even worse than below poverty line. This family consists of father Shaikh Babu 65 years, sister Ajmeri Begum 28 years, and two brothers Shaikh Hyder and Shaikh Ahmed, bearing house number 10-10-722/168, Nagaram locality of Nizamabad town. They have 75 sq. yards land allotted by the government. Apart from land they do not have anything else, not even basic facilities. On this land they have constructed walls with mud and broken tin as shelter. Father is a rickshaw puller but now he is not in a condition to work anymore. Our team visited their house on 25th March 2015 and spoke to the family members on the Custodial death of their elder son, Shaikh Hyder aged 22 years. He was a daily wage labourer.
As per the statement of family members on 21st March 2015, Saturday Shaikh Hyder went to the labour adda (a place where labourers gather at one place) at Ahmedi Bazar at 9 am. At 11 am father received information from some local person that his elder son is taken away by the ID party (Intelligence Department) of Nizamabad 1 town police, then again received a call at 2pm asking them to come to police station and take their son as he got injured. On this sister Ajmeri Begum and younger brother Shaikh Ahmed went to town-1 police station and inquired about their brother. But the police personnel did not answer her and were busy in playing games on phones. She said after asking several times, ‘please saab(Sir) tell where is my brother, what happened to him’, they did not respond even once, after one hour of requesting they pushed both of them out of police station. So, both brother and sister stood outside the police station waiting for brother. She further said, ‘after half an hour, two policemen brought Hyder dragging, he seemed to be lifeless, we didn’t know whether he was alive or not and another policeman called an auto and sent three of us to government hospital’. Doctor at this hospital examined Hyder and said, ‘you have brought him very late, if you had brought one hour earlier, I would have done something to save his life, why did you wait till heavy bleeding, now you take him to Gandhi hospital, Hyderabad’. Ajmeri Begum said, she observed that her brother was not moving an inch, his feet sole were torn badly. Then she called her father to the hospital.
Meanwhile an ambulance was already waiting there, as soon as her father came, some policemen who were in the civil dress shifted the body in the ambulance, one person sat besides the driver and asked the driver to take ambulance to Hyderabad. Father and younger brother also accompanied the body to Hyderabad. They reached Gandhi hospital, Hyderabad on same day in the evening. One doctor examined the body and declared brought dead and the body was shifted to the mortuary. On receiving information of this incident next day i.e. on 22nd March, MBT leader Amjedullah Khan Khalid reached Gandhi hospital and helped the family members, insisted the hospital authorities to conduct the post mortem as per rules and norms.
Local resident statements:
The local of the Nizamabad town said that, everything was planned and arranged, from auto to ambulance and Nizamabad to Hyderabad. Police thought that if at all postmortem is done at Nizamabad there would be lot of problems so they shifted the body to Hyderabad for postmortem. As per Information received to this committee SI Govind, Corporator Ejaz and Imran Shahzad TRS worker took a vehicle and went to Hyderabad to settle the matter and then and there but due to the presence of MBT leader Mr.Amjadullah Khan Khalid they could not succeeded in their plan .Gandhi hospital authorities conducted the postmortem and the body was handed over to the family at 3pm of 22nd March 2015.Body arrived at 6.30pm to its residence; the locals took the photos of the body where all the torture marks were present. The local People said that the sole of the feet was cut so badly that fingers can go 2 inch inside the cut. Around ten thousand people gathered at the deceased house. The town-1 police came along with a huge number of armed police to the house of the deceased and asked the family to complete the last rites quickly.
But, a group of women who run Rowshni Welfare society said that, ‘we resisted and demanded the police personnel to hand over the guilty policemen to us, as it was the matter of torture and death of an innocent, if we keep quiet you will pick up some other youth and repeat the same’. So they protested and demanded that, ‘the body will not be buried till we get justice’. On this Superintendent of Police Chandrashekhar Reddy arrived at the spot and assured them that the guilty policemen will be suspended and compensation will be given to the family. But the women said, ‘compensation will not bring the youth back, we want the 5 policemen who are guilty, they should be removed from the services and cases be registered against them’. On this SP said case will be booked only after the postmortem report comes out and immediately gave Rs.50000 and asked them to complete the funeral rites and other formalities. But the women group was on its demand for action against police.
But in meantime some other political persons also gathered there such as Ex-deputy mayor Mir Majaz Ali, Corporator Dr. Zahoor-ul-Haq, Waqf board vice president and youth leader Javeed and some others. Mir Majaz Ali, ex-deputy mayor from MIM party assured the public that he will see that the case is booked against the guilty policemen and if at all case is not registered he will give private complaint. Earlier the local People had decided that the body would be buried next day i.e. on 23rd afternoon, and ice box was brought to keep the body. But after the police pressure and assurance from the community leaders the body was buried at 10pm at graveyard beside Kacchiyaan Masjid which is 5 kms away from the deceased house. 2-3 thousand people were present at funeral procession. This committee came to know that the local politicians belonging to TRS and MIM who are in alliance in Municipal corporation tried maximum to suppress the issue. Some political personalities who extended helping hand to the victim’s family did so only on their personal level; at large these two political parties who are in power are mum on this custodial death only because of their political interest and nexus with police.
A local youth who is politically active (who did not want to be named) informed the fact finding committee that in the night of 21st March the circle inspector Srinivasulu called him at police station; two corporators/councilors were also present there. They showed the photo of the deceased and asked whether he can handle the situation? Then the youth asked what is the matter, the police said, ‘this youth died in police custody but you have to say that he died by jumping the wall’. The youth said to us that his conscious is not permitting him to do so because he knew that the youth was not a thief. But he died in police custody during torture and interrogation. The 3rd degree torture methods were used on him and police had wanted to involve that youth in various unsolved cases such as motor cycle theft and burning, chain snatching and other petty crimes. This committee also came to know that, the day when this youth was taken into custody was the day of Telugu festival Ugadi, and most of them were in highly drunken condition. This committee also observed during its visit to the police station, the atmosphere was very undisciplined and non serious.
The local people informed to the committee that Circle Inspector Srinivasulu is communal minded person and he is a relative of Sunil who is the close aide of Nizamabad TRS MLA Ganesh Gupta. The local people strongly feel that the youth was an innocent and died due to the 3rd degree torture under police custody. Due to the nexus between the police and politicians, they are suppressing the issue. The anger of locals is that peoples’ representatives belonging to MIM and TRS are taking the side of police and ignoring the custodial death and emotions of people and using all the sources to subside the matter once for all. Local people says that police inspector, sub inspector and 3 police constables are involved in this custodial death, and the corporators of MIM and TRS have full knowledge and understanding on it. Local people strongly believe that Inspector of police was helping the politician in land issues and in other matters as well and now the politician is helping the police to get rid of this case.
Statements of District Administrators:
The fact finding committee visited the town-1 police station of Nizamabad; the atmosphere of the police station was very strange. Police personnel were sitting in groups, chit chatting; making jokes with each other, laughing loudly… it seemed as if it is some market place instead of police station. There was no responsible officer present at the moment, after some time one policeman Talah Khan, sub-inspector came and spoke to us. He explained the overall situation as per his “story” ‘public brought Hyder to the police station, I asked why did you bring him they said he is thief so I asked do you have any complaint, so they gave written complaint, then I registered FIR and handed over to SI Govind because I had other cases. Then at 11 am, ID party Sriram took Hyder to the interrogation room at the backside for taking photo and finger prints. There he got fits and fell down, and then they recived him and asked him to stand outside for fresh air. Hyder tried to run away and climbed the wall and jumped and fell on some sanitary material because of which he got injured, so we called the family and sent him to the hospital. The doctors at hospital did not take care so he died’. Sub-inspector also blamed the Inspector for not handling the situation properly because of which he was suspended. We also examined the scene of offence, the wall is of just 4 feet and it is out of imagination to believe that after jumping that wall one gets so much injured that the feet sole cuts badly and bleeds heavily leading to the death.
This committee also went to meet Superintendent of Police Mr.Rajshekhar Reddy but he avoided to meet us and left the office in our presence while hiding his face in the car. The police personnel present there mentioned that he went to play tennis. It is interesting to mention that when the family of the deceased went to the police station the police personnel were playing games in the phones and when the fact finding committee wanted to meet the SP he went away to play games.
Fact finding committee also went to meet the district collector Ronald Ross; he gave the details of this case that the case is registered against the policemen and executive magisterial inquiry is ordered U/s 176 Cr.pc, which will be conducted by RDO. When asked why not Judicial magisterial inquiry, he said that he cannot order Judicial inquiry, government has to order it, he can only order executive magisterial inquiry. He further said that, “I am doing my best from my side for the rehabilitation of this family”.
After going through the above mentioned facts, it is an exact case of custodial death and it is confessed by the Police and Administration of Nizamabad.
- The death happened on 21st March at town – 1 police station of Nizamabad district, which was the festival day of Ugadi, celebrated as Telugu New Year. On this day, Shaik Hyder was killed by the police personnel under the police custody and he died during the interrogation due to the excessive use of third degree torture. Investigative officers might have been in inebriated condition due to festival; they might have not understood the gravity of torture they used.
- The Inspector of Police, one SI and three constables are responsible for the death of Shaik Hyder. We found that this police station is undisciplined and non-serious; people are behaved with inhuman manner.
- They called the family and made them stand for almost two hours without saying any reason. Instead of calling family and asking them to take Hyder to hospital, they should have themselves shifted Hyder to the hospital.
- As per the local people, in this issue there is nexus between police and politicians belonging to MIM and TRS; so they wanted to sub side the issue for their own gains.
- People are very angry; they are in shock as to why the politicians who are elected by them are protecting the police personnel. The same police were targeting and beating these politicians during the Telangana movement.
- The fact finding team also felt that the Superintendent of Police is not fair and he is equally responsible for suppressing the facts.
- The police personnel who are appointed to maintain law and order and protect the lives of people; playing games has become more important than the life of a person for the same police personnel. They are not just playing games but playing with the lives of the people.
- This committee feels distressed that a family is living in such a deteriorating condition that they don’t have any basic amenities, and they are not even in a position to eat two times meals a day. A youth belonging to such a poor background is killed by the police mercilessly.
- It is a matter of shame for the whole society and particularly Muslim community.
- This committee expresses its deep concern that neither the ruling Muslim party, nor ruling Telangana party or any of the Muslim organizations raise their voice against this police atrocity nor consoled the family till now. It is a big question mark on their honesty
- Conduct the Judicial inquiry by the high court judge.
- Register the cases against the suspected police personnel and keep them away from the service till the completion of the inquiry.
- Government should rehabilitate the family by taking all the measures with all the necessary facilities.
- Stop the torture and close the torture cells.
- Follow the guidelines of Supreme Court and NHRC in connection of arrests, detention and interrogation.
This committee wants to state that the Telangana government led by Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao has failed to protect the life and liberty and self respect of the people as promised during the Telangana movement. In fact, many custodial deaths occurred after the formation of new state, Telangana. It is alarming situation that human rights and civil liberties of people of Telangana is on stake There is total impunity in Police; they are behaving in a fascist manner with the mindset that they are not accountable to anyone. Moreover, after the formation of KCR government, police has been given with all kinds of conveniences which are actually misused for violation of human rights. It is a matter of high concern that the place where this incident took place is the place from where the Chief Minister’s daughter MS. K. Kavita has been elected as Member of Parliament by the same people but till date she has not even looked at the family of the deceased Shaik Hyder in spite of request of people.
The Supreme Court of India has taken serious note in the matter of custodial death and considered it as the gravest crime on humanity. It is high time for the people of Telangana to pressurize the government to stop the custodial killings by keeping in view of the Supreme Court verdict. Therefore, We want to remind people, the verdict of Supreme Court on custodial death: ‘Custodial violence includes torture and death in the lock ups strikes a blow at the rule of law, which demands that the power of the executive should not only be derived from law but also that the same should be limited by law—–transparency of action and accountability perhaps are two possible safeguards which this court must insist upon’.
Lateef Mohd Khan