Kannauj: Sitting on a worn-out cot outside his house in Madaiya West village in UP’s Kannauj district, Jahangir (he doesn’t use a last name) weeps, wiping his tears with his one good hand — he lost the other in an accident. His 15-year-old son, Dilshan alias Raja, he says, died Monday due to internal injuries caused by a beating. He says he doesn’t “trust” the police or the autopsy report, according to which Dilshan succumbed to an illness.
According to Jahangir and his wife Shabana Begum, Dilshan had visited a private school called RS Intermediary College Saturday in the hopes of getting admission to Class 9. It’s unclear exactly what transpired next, but Dilshan and two other boys were accused of stealing a watch and were allegedly beaten by two teachers, Prabhakar Kumar and Vivek Yadav, and the school principal, Shiv Kumar.
“He and two others were caught by the teachers. They had done some mischief with a watch. The teachers, including the principal Shiv Kumar, hit them. While they let the other two go, they took my son in and kept beating him,” Shabana said, distraught.
The family alleges that Dilshan was in pain when he returned and he was in critical condition by Saturday night. He was admitted to a hospital, but died Monday night.
The police, however, claim that Dilshan died of an untreated illness, pointing to the findings of an autopsy conducted Tuesday. No FIR has been filed yet.
“The allegations of torture have been found to be untrue,” Kannauj Superintendent of Police (SP) Anupam Singh told ThePrint. “No injuries have been found on the body. The cause of death is chronic lung disease. Action will be taken on the basis of evidence.”
ThePrint has seen a copy of the autopsy report, where the cause of death is listed as cardiorespiratory failure and chronic lung disorder. The report also said that there were no injuries on the body but that the child’s liver and kidneys were “congested”.
Dilshan’s family has contested these findings and demanded another autopsy. Jahangir told ThePrint that his son wasn’t sick and “regularly worked in the fields with no sign of distress”.
“Even if we agree he was ill, why would he collapse on the same day that he was beaten up and die two days later?” he asked.
He also alleged that the police aren’t investigating the matter properly and are “threatening” the family.
“Some officers came Wednesday and threatened to lodge cases against us if we bring up the matter further. One of them also called us terrorists,” Jahangir alleged.
The officers named by Jahangir denied the allegation, saying they only went to extend support to the family.
When asked, senior police officers posted at Chhibramau police station said they hadn’t questioned any of the teachers accused by the family.
At the time ThePrint visited the village Thursday, there were different versions circulating about the events before and after Dilshan’s death.
What happened at the school?
Dilshan’s family claims the teenager wanted to shift from his government school to a private one, and visited RS Intermediary College, about 2.5km from his house, for admission at around 9am Saturday.
“Around 11.30am, we received a call from a teacher, Mahesh Pal, asking us to pick up our son, without citing any reasons. After reaching home, Dilshan started crying in front of his mother, saying that three teachers beat him up after locking him in a room over a watch. He started getting restless due to the pain, after which his mother took him to two local doctors, who only put him on saline and sent him back home,” Jahangir said.
Shabana Begum added that Dilshan had told her the teachers “hit him with sticks and kicked him in the stomach”. He was eventually taken to a hospital in Kanpur, but died soon afterwards.
“Why did they hit my son?” Shabana asked. “They could have called us first instead of hitting him and then calling us.”
When ThePrint visited the school Thursday, the principal and the two teachers weren’t there. Teacher Mahesh Pal, however, said that three boys — Dilshan, Dipu Pal, and Karan Sharma — were found “doing mischief” and “warned”.
“The principal asked me to call their parents and I called Dilshan’s family since we are from the same village,” Pal said. He added that the two teachers and principal had not come to school since Monday.
ThePrint called and sent messages to principal Shiv Kumar, but his phone was switched off.
ThePrint also spoke to the boys, Dipu and Karan, who were reportedly with Dilshan that day. Both admitted that the three of them had been caught with a watch, but their accounts diverged somewhat.
Karan said that the teachers let him go because he “didn’t do anything” and also allowed Dipu out soon afterwards, but detained Dilshan. “He was beaten up, and later asked to leave the school premises. Then I saw him at his house, sick,” Karan claimed.
Dipu, on the other hand, said that the teachers “only slapped” and hit him and Dilshan on the back “twice” with sticks. “We were fine… Dilshan didn’t look sick,” he said.
‘Family changed their story, political enmity’
According to Dilshan’s family members, they went to register a complaint at Chhibramau police station Monday night, but had to wait hours for an officer to attend to them. They were then asked to return the next day.
“We then went to the police station on Tuesday morning around 8am. We waited for over an hour after which the officers told us to ask for an autopsy in writing,” Shamshad, Dilshan’s paternal uncle, said.
When asked about this, a senior officer at the station said that the autopsy was conducted because the family had requested it. He showed ThePrint a general diary entry from 10am Tuesday, which noted that Shamshad had asked for the autopsy.
The officer further claimed that the family did not say anything about the alleged beating or the teachers.
“On the night of 25 July, they didn’t mention the school incident. Later, they changed their statements and started the allegations after the autopsy report came on the 26th,” the officer said.
He also hinted that the “personal enmity” of a local leader towards the school principal could have played into the complaint, although ThePrint was not able to substantiate this.
“The local leader’s brother was killed by a relative of the school principal in 2007. Now he has misguided the family to seek revenge. He is busy doing politics and also personal enmity,” the officer said.
Dilshan’s family purportedly works on this leader’s land. ThePrint tried to contact the leader through text messages and calls, but did not receive a response.
Asked if the case now stands closed, or if the teachers would be questioned, the SP said, “We are looking into the family’s allegations”.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)