Relatives of Altaf gathered at his Kasganj home in mourning after the 22-year-old was found dead at the police station | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Relatives of Altaf gathered at his Kasganj home in mourning after the 22-year-old was found dead at the police station | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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Kasganj: A cousin of the Muslim man found dead in police custody at Kasganj, Uttar Pradesh, has alleged that the family was offered Rs 5 lakh and a government job to claim that he suffered from depression, and they didn’t want his death investigated. Police have denied the allegations.

According to Mohammed Sageer, police personnel made him write a letter that claimed Altaf Raja, 22, suffered from depression, before getting the latter’s father, Chand Miyan, to authorise it with his thumbprint.

A brother of Chand Miyan, Shakir Ali, was also present at the time the letter was “signed”, and so were Altaf’s mother Fatima and an activist named Dr Farooq, who served as “mediator”, Sageer said.

Altaf was found dead in the toilet of the Kasganj police station Tuesday. He is believed to have been in detention for questioning in a case involving the alleged elopement of a Hindu minor with one of his friends. 

While police claim Altaf hanged himself with the drawstring of his hoodie, his family has disputed the account. The autopsy report, accessed by ThePrint, identifies “asphyxia” as the cause of death, and makes no mention of any bruises or injuries on the rest of his body. 

A judicial inquiry has been ordered in the matter, and five policemen — including Station House Officer Virendra Singh Indoria — have been suspended.

The letter in question, accessed by ThePrint, has Chand Miyan claiming that “my son Altaf died by suicide when he was taken by the police for questioning in a case”. “He was suffering from depression. The police even took him to the hospital, but he died there. I don’t have any complaints against the police, nor do my family or I want any investigation in the matter,” it adds. 

Sageer said the letter was signed Tuesday evening.

“This was on the evening of 9 November. Now suspended Station House Officer Virendra Singh Indoria, Circle Officer Kasganj City Deep Pant and some other personnel were present at the meeting where an understanding was reached,” he added.

“I was there with Chand Miyan and his brother Shakir Ali. There was no violence inflicted upon us but we were told to sign the letter or we would face consequences.” 

Sageer said police personnel met them with a ready draft of the letter, which was dictated to him by a constable. 

“I jotted down whatever he said because I thought an understanding had been reached. And then chacha signed it. Nobody is willing to say these things in the open because of fear of police torture,” he added.

He claimed Rs 5 lakh was instantly transferred to Chand Miyan’s account after the “deal was struck”, with police allegedly promising him that the “the rest of the sum will be given to the family under some government scheme”. 

“We don’t know what scheme this is,” Sageer added. 

Kasganj Circle Officer Deep Kumar Pant rubbished Sageer’s allegations as “blatant lies”, saying the money offered was “compensation”. 

“We offered compensation looking at the financial condition of this family. The family is changing its statement every moment. These are blatant lies,” he told ThePrint.

SP Rohan Botre, however, said the police hasn’t transferred any amount yet. “We have only requested the magistrate to give it. We haven’t given any money from our side,” he told ThePrint.

Also Read: UP custody death: Muslim man was detained after Hindu girl ‘fled’ to Delhi with his friend

Demand for CBI inquiry

Chand Miyan, who has denied the suicide account, said he is illiterate and didn’t know what he was signing.

“I was in shock. I had just heard the news that my son was dead. Details of the meeting are hazy for me,” he told ThePrint. “This depression story is false, that much I can say.”

Altaf's father Chand Miyan and mother Fatima | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
Altaf’s father Chand Miyan with his relatives | Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

Shakir Ali added, “We’re poor people. We don’t know what depression means. It’s a new word. All I know is that Altaf wasn’t pagal (mad), he was of sound mind.”

Chand Miyan says he wants another autopsy for his son and a CBI inquiry in the matter. “I’m not satisfied with the post-mortem report. I want another one and also a separate, independent CBI inquiry into my son’s death,” he said. 

In a video report now viral on Twitter, a purported family member of Altaf is seen alleging that there were bruises on his head and legs. ThePrint tracked down and spoke to the woman in the video, who identified herself as Altaf’s aunt but didn’t wish to be named. 

She said all her information about Altaf’s body was “second-hand”. “I haven’t seen anything myself. I just saw his face. I said what those who washed his body told me,” she said. 

However, Shabir and Shakir, the two relatives of Altaf who washed his body before the funeral, told ThePrint that they weren’t sure of the nature of the bruises. 

“I only thought his head had bruises but I’m not sure if they were post-mortem marks. They didn’t stitch his head back properly, blood was coming out from behind his ears. There were no bruises on his legs — the only wounds I could see were ligature marks on his neck,” Shabir said. 

Chand Miyan also said he didn’t see any injuries. “I saw Altaf before the autopsy and he didn’t have any head injuries, or any other bruises on his body. All I know is that he was killed in that station. He couldn’t have committed suicide.”

In the image embedded, the woman sitting beside Altaf’s father was earlier erroneously identified as the former’s mother. The error is regretted.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: Hindu families seek ‘justice’, Muslims bereft – UP ‘love jihad’ law has Bareilly in frenzy

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