Police occupied the tense streets of Bisara, Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, as Muslim families stayed indoors while Hindu residents burnt effigies of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and participated in rallies to protest 21-year old Ravin Sisodia’s death under police custody. Sisodia, who passed away on Tuesday night, was on one of the 19 accused of murdering Akhlaq last year and was being held in Gautam Budh Nagar’s district jail.
A Muslim resident of the village, who spoke to the Indian Express on condition of anonymity said, “The rally covered the entire village. The participants were shouting slogans condemning (UP minister) Azam Khan and Akhilesh Yadav. The situation is very tense. Police personnel are present in the village but anything can happen. We have been advised not to step out. We are just being careful.”
According to India Today, the police imposed Section 144 in the area to deter violence or agitation of any kind.
Since Sisodia’s father, Ranvir Sisodia, collected Ravin’s body from the Noida district hospital and brought it back to Basra on Wednesday night, tensions have been running high in the village. The villagers refuse to cremate the body and are demanding a CBI inquiry in Sisodia’s death since they suspect that Ravin died of injuries sustained during police torture rather than chikungunya, which has been cited as the official cause of his death. “We are arranging for a deep freezer to keep the body… We want a CBI inquiry into the case. The jail officers who were behind his death should be charged with murder, suspended and arrested. The family should be given a compensation of Rs 1 crore and his wife should be given a government job. His widow should also be given a flat like Akhlaq’s brother, Jaan Mohammad, was given,” Om Mahesh, a relative of Ravin’s and father of another accused, Vinay, told the Indian Express.
Gautam Budh Nagar’s district magistrate, N.P. Singh told Indian Express that the department is conducting an inquiry into Sisodia’s death, “A judicial inquiry into the case is being conducted… we will take action on the basis of the facts which come to the fore in the inquiry”.
Cause of death
According to the Hindu, Sisodia, who was housed at the district jail in Luksar, Greater Noida, was admitted to the Noida district hospital on Monday after he allegedly complained of respiratory problems and a fever. He was moved to LNJP hospital in Delhi on Tuesday morning, where he died later that evening.
The Hindu also found court documents that contradict the Basra villagers’ claims about Sisodia’s death. Sisodia submitted an application to the Gautam Budh Nagar court on September 30 requesting to be moved to the Noida district hospital, citing chikungunya as the reason. His application to the Additional District judge court (ADJ) stated, “It is to be brought under your kind attention that the accused/pleader is suffering from Chikungunya and he gets unbearable pain near the spinal cord and in different other parts of body. The accused is in a serious condition but he is unable to get proper treatment in the prison clinic.”
Before the plea to the court was revealed, India Today reported that Sisodia had been suffering from dengue. The same report also added that the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to senior police officers in Uttar Pradesh over Sisodia’s death in judicial custody.
While Sisodia has not been cremated yet, his fellow accused were denied permission to attend his funeral by a trial court in Greater Noida. The accused’s lawyer, Ram Sharan told the Hindu that the judge rejected the plea saying “there was no provision for it.