Mihan Ansari, a 22-year-old from the Jamtara district in Jharkhand, died in custody on Sunday, less than a week after he was arrested for allegedly sharing an objectionable comment on beef via WhatsApp, Indian Express reported.
Ansari’s family has alleged that he was beaten and tortured in police custody. But the police have pointed to records that say he was suffering from encephalitis.
However, the police have admitted that there were lapses on the part of the officer-in-charge of Narayanpura police station, sub-inspector Harish Pathak. An FIR has been registered against Pathak for murder and he has been suspended from duty.
According to what the police told Indian Express, a WhatsApp message that allegedly made an objectionable comment about beef started doing the rounds in Dighari village of Narayanpura on October 2. A few people were detained. While others were released, Ansari was arrested on October 3. Two days later, his family was told that he had been shifted to Dhanbad for treatment after suffering injuries in custody.
“They went to the police station along with other villagers. There was a scuffle at the police station between Ansari’s parents and the officer-in-charge, Harish Pathak. Ansari’s family filed a written complaint against Pathak, following which an FIR of attempt to murder and outraging the modesty of a woman was registered against him. The officer was suspended immediately. After Ansari’s death, the attempt to murder charge has been changed to a murder charge,” Jamtara deputy commissioner Ramesh Kumar Dubey told Indian Express.
On October 7, Ansari was shifted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi. He died there two days later.
“While an inquiry is on, the medical reports indicate that Ansari was suffering from encephalitis. It appears that the officer-in-charge did not check on this,” Jamtara SP Manoj Kumar Singh told Indian Express. He denied that Ansari’s family was not informed about his condition.
“We took action because the WhatsApp message, with some comments about beef, had the potential to disturb communal peace, coming so close to Dussehra and Muharram. The situation is peaceful now, we are keeping a strict watch,” he said.