Kasganj: It wasn’t 22-year-old Altaf Raja, who died in police custody in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj district, who had “gone missing” with a Hindu girl.
Altaf had been called in for questioning as the Kasganj Police were looking for the 16-year-old Hindu girl. According to the FIR, accessed by ThePrint, the girl had gone missing with Altaf’s friend. Her father has alleged that it was Altaf “who had sent the girl to Delhi with his friend”.
The FIR quotes the father as stating that at 2 pm on 8 November, Altaf came to the house when his daughter was alone at home. He then allegedly called his friend and sent them both to Delhi. The father claimed that the girl took her clothes and some documents.
Police are yet to trace the minor girl and Altaf’s friend.
According to the FIR, the father of the girl said Altaf used to frequent his house as they had hired him to retile their bathroom.
The Kasganj Police claim to have recovered intimate videos from Altaf’s phone of him and the girl. The police, however, refused to share the videos with ThePrint, citing the girl’s age.
“The father in the complaint urged that his daughter, who is a minor, be brought back. This is why we called Altaf for questioning. Moreover, we did not invoke any sections under the anti-conversion law, because the complainant did not make any such allegation,” a source in the police said.
The source added that the police may invoke sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the case. As of now, the FIR has been lodged under sections 363 (kidnapping) and 366 (abduction, inducing a woman to compel her for marriage) of the IPC.
“Altaf has died but the complaint also mentions a friend of his who took the girl to Delhi. The first priority is to trace the girl and arrest the man who took her to Delhi,” the police source said. “His involvement in this will be investigated and sections of the POCSO Act may also be invoked, since the girl is a minor. Our investigation is underway.”
Altaf was brought in for questioning on 8 November (Monday), and was found dead on 9 November.
The Kasganj Police has faced flak for claiming that the 22-year-old hanged himself in the police station’s washroom “using the drawstrings on his jacket hood”.
Altaf was depressed, claim cops
According to Altaf’s autopsy report, accessed by ThePrint, he died of “asphyxia”. The report adds that there are over three ligature marks on his neck. A ligature mark is a pressure mark on the neck, under the ligature, often caused due to hanging.
According to the report, these are all antemortem injuries (injuries received before death, which can also act as a cause of death). There is no mention of any bruises or injuries on the rest of his body.
Superintendent of Police, Kasganj district, Rohan Botre, said Chand Miyan, Altaf’s father, had given it in writing that his son was suffering from depression, and that “he used to do such things all the time”. The SP also added that the family is yet to register a case against the police.
Miyan, however, told ThePrint that he was illiterate and that the police allegedly made him sign the papers.
“I was called to the police station at night on 9th November. I didn’t even know my son was gone, and I thought the police had called me to release him. They made me sign a bunch of papers too,” he said. “I am illiterate, I don’t know what I was signing. I can’t say if the police killed my son but I can assure you that he didn’t kill himself.”
Speaking to ThePrint, ADG, UP Police, Prashant Srivastava, said a judicial inquiry in the matter has been initiated and five policemen including the SHO, Virendra Singh, two sub-inspectors, and two constables have been suspended.
“He was asked to use the toilet in the cell, where three more people were lodged. When he did not come out for long, the cell inmates called the staff to check on him,” Srivastava said.
“When the staff went to check, they saw that he had hung himself from the string of his hood. He had tied it around his neck and to a plastic pipe jutting out. He was immediately taken to the hospital, but died during treatment.”
According to SP Botre, Altaf was inside the toilet for 20 minutes. Asked if the inmates present in the cell heard anything, he said, “The toilet of the cell is a little far away from where the inmates were sitting, so they didn’t hear anything.”
‘Used to gawk at my girl’
The father of the minor girl told ThePrint that Altaf had come to the house to redo the tiles on the day of Dhanteras, 3 November.
According to Chand Miyan, Altaf had first gone to the house about a month ago.
“I didn’t like his presence in my house. He used to call on my number a lot of times after his work was done to enquire how the tiles are looking. I thought that was fishy,” the father told ThePrint. “I later realised he would talk to my daughter through my phone. She was a minor. God knows what this musalmaan was teaching her.”
Family members of the girl also claimed that on the day of Diwali, 4 November, they were in a hospital, while the girl was alone at home. The girl’s mother alleged that when she returned home, she spotted Altaf escaping from the roof of their house.
“I saw the boy escape. I asked my girl a lot what he was doing here,” the girl’s mother said. “She said he had come to check if all the tiles were in their position properly.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)