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Row over ‘custodial torture death’ in Telangana. ‘Thrashed, forced to give wrong custody dates’

Mohammed Khadeer died in hospital on 16 February. Video purportedly showing him saying he was tortured in police custody has sparked outrage.

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Hyderabad: Controversy has broken out in Telangana over the death of a labourer, allegedly as a result of torture in police custody. Opposition politicians have demanded action and the state’s director general of police has ordered an investigation.

Mohammed Khadeer, 35, was allegedly held for five days in connection with a chain-snatching case in Medak’s Arabgalli area and tortured. He died on 16 February after being shifted to multiple hospitals for treatment. His wife, Siddeshwari, filed a police complaint the next day, alleging that local officers had inflicted ‘third-degree’ torture on Khadeer.

“He was seriously ill due to major injuries and was unconscious. All his body parts were damaged,” she said in the complaint, which ThePrint has seen. 

On Saturday, state police chief Anjani Kumar directed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandrasekhar Reddy to forward the investigation to a senior officer of Kamareddy district (closer to Medak). The IGP will supervise the investigation. 

“Disciplinary action was initiated against the inspector and sub-inspector,” read a statement from the DGP’s office. 

The police complaint was filed against sub-inspector Rajashekhar and constables Pavan Kumar and B. Prashanth. Medak Superintendent of Police (SP) Rohini Priyadarshini issued transfer orders to the policemen Friday.

The incident sparked outrage among the opposition, with the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) demanding a murder case against the police officers and Telangana Congress Chief Revanth Reddy seeking a probe by a special investigation team. Reddy had tweeted Sunday arguing that a video shot in hospital, in which Khadeer narrates the alleged torture, should be considered his dying declaration.

Also Read: Could AIMIM dent the BRS in Telangana? Owaisi brothers may take call on ‘contesting more seats’

Khadeer’s revelation in the videos 

Khadeer, a labourer from Telangana’s Medak district, was working in Hyderabad. In a video tweeted on 9 February by Amjed Ullah Khan — a spokesperson for a political party, the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT), who has been fighting for the family —  he is heard narrating his ordeal from a Medak hospital. 

“I was picked up from (old) Hyderabad and was beaten up in the car and brought to Medak. They hung me upside down for two hours and beat me…my legs and hands were not moving… they later told me that they picked me up as a suspect as the thief resembled me, and later let me off with some doubt. I was brought in on 29 January and let off on 2 February,” Khadeer says in the video.  

“They (police) took me to the mandal office and asked me to declare that I was picked up just last evening and let off in the morning. They said it would create problems if I did not say that. I was asked to sign, but because I could not even do that (due to his condition), they signed for me,” he said, adding that two constables had hit him brutally. 

Khadeer’s family has said that he was first admitted to the government hospital in Medak and then shifted to a private one on Hyderabad’s outskirts by the police. Despite this, when his condition continued to deteriorate, he was finally moved to Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, where he eventually died of kidney failure. 

Khadeer’s post-mortem report is currently awaited.

Also Read:  Two police encounters, two states, 28 years apart. And what the courts said

Police deny foul play

Medak Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Saidulu has reportedly denied any kind of custodial torture, adding that Khadeer was merely questioned and let off on 3 February at the tehsildar’s office. The DSP added that there was a gap of five days between Khadeer being let off and being admitted to a hospital. “The police officers have no idea about what happened to him in those five days,” the officer claimed.

SP Rohini Priyadarshini reportedly said that Khadeer was brought in as a suspect for chain snatching as his facial features looked similar to the suspect in the CCTV footage. He was brought in for questioning on 2 February and let off the next day, she added. The officer, to ThePrint in a text message, denied using any “facial recognition” software. 

Meanwhile, Amjed Ullah Khan has demanded a CBI probe or an inquiry by a sitting High Court judge on the issue, and an ex gratia payment to the family. Khadeer had contacted Khan for help when he was at the hospital. The latter had tweeted about the issue to IT minister K.T. Rama Rao and DGP Anjani Kumar at that time. 

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

Also Read: Harassed CBI officers, dead witnesses – why SC shifted murder probe of ex-Andhra minister


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