New Delhi: A fact-finding team looking into the death of 30-year-old Munfaid in an alleged police encounter has not just said that the police is trying to cover up the details of the case, but also that as many as 11 police encounter cases – with 15 victims, all Muslim men – have been identified in the area since 2010. Munfaid was killed on September 16.
Munfaid had been accused in a rape case and was frequently called by the police to do some work for them, promising to dismiss the case in return, his family has said. On the night before his death, he reportedly told his father and father-in-law that the police had asked him to come Rewari to meet them for some work. His family encouraged him to go, they told the fact-finding team from the Citizens Against Hate collective, hoping the police would stop harassing them. Munfaid mentioned the names of four Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) officers he was going to meet – Vikrant, Shakti Singh, Satish and Siddharth. The next day, the family was told that Munfaid had been killed.
According to the team, residents of village Rozkemeo said that Munfaid wasn’t alone when he was killed – he was accompanied by three friends, who saw him get shot by the police and then fled the scene fearing for their own lives. They have not given a statement to the police and are now in hiding, people in the village said, fearing repercussions.
The police, however, have claimed that they found Munfaid’s body in a white pick-up truck on the Tauru Nuh road, with a bullet to his neck.
Munfaid’s father wrote a complaint the day his son died, naming the CIA officers mentioned. However, the police’s FIR was based not on his complaint but on the report of inspector Mastana of the CIA, and does not talk about possible police involvement. The family has also alleged that the police tried to rush through the postmortem – the body was taken to two hospitals that refused to conduct the procedure because the body was unidentified (postmortem on an unidentified body is only legal three days after a death), the fact-finding report has alleged, before finding a doctor willing to conduct it.
“The police knew Munfaid well, why then did the FIR call him an ‘unidentified body’? And the biggest thing is that the police themselves called Munfaid to meet them, asking him to work for them in return for dismissing the case,” advocate Mangla Verma, part of the fact-finding committee, told The Wire. “This is not the first case of its kind in the Mewat region, we have found 11 such cases in recent years.”
According to a report in the Indian Express, after media reports and public demands, the police has ordered a special investigation team probe into the death. “Action will be taken against the officers if anything that confirms the deceased’s father’s claims comes to light,” Yadram, DSP (Firojpur Jhirka), who is heading the SIT, told the newspaper.
A video has also surfaced with a man who claims he was on the scene, but does not want to be identified because of security reasons. “There was a CIA vehicle parked on the road. Munfaid said he has some work and would talk to them,” the man says in the video. “We are not running, we have stopped. Then they shot him. We ran. They opened fire on us as well… I came home the next day,” he said, adding that no policemen have visited him since.
Of the other cases listed by the Citizens Against Hate collective, only four have seen an FIR be registered – including one in which an FIR has been filed against friends of the deceased.