New Delhi: The Jharkhand police has dropped murder charges against the 11 people accused of lynching 22-year-old Tabrez Ansari. Ansari was beaten by a mob who apparently thought he was a thief, and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’ on June 18 this year. He died days later, in police custody.
Reports say that the police have used the final post-mortem report, which says Ansari died of “cardiac arrest”, to drop the murder charge. The chargesheet again the 11 now only includes culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
“We filed a chargesheet under IPC section 304 because of two reasons. One, he did not die at the spot… the villagers did not have any intent to kill Ansari. Second, the medical report did not substantiate the murder charge. The final post-mortem report said Ansari died due to cardiac arrest and that a haemorrhage in the head was not fatal. The second medical opinion said the cause of death was a combination of cardiac arrest and the head injury,” the SP of Saraikela-Kharsawan, Karthik S., told the Indian Express.
The police’s role in the case has come under question from the very beginning. When Ansari was taken into custody, the police did not file a case against the people who had attacked him. That case was filed only after his death, based on a complaint from his wife. A fact-finding team from the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha had also found that the police had denied Ansari proper medical treatment and also threatened his family.
Ansari’s death became a matter of concern for the police only after a video of the mob attacking him went viral on social media. A probe panel appointed by the district administration also found lapses on the police’s part, and said that doctors at the first hospital Ansari was taken to were also responsible as they cleared him for custody despite severe head injuries.
According to NDTV, Ansari’s family has alleged that he had sustained severe head injuries in the mob attack, which were responsible for his death. Indian Express too had reported soon after the post-mortem was conducted that the death most “in all possibility” due to the injuries to his skull, the doctor had said.
However, the police is now using the final post-mortem report to argue that the murder charge will not hold up in court. “Once we got the medical report, we asked for second opinion from higher level of experts. They also gave same sort of opinion,” the SP said.
“Our motive is to secure a conviction. Initially, we thought we could invoke both 302 and 304 of the IPC, but that could not have gone parallel… The medical reports also did not decisively say death due to haemorrhage. In the court, this could have led to a problem,” a police official told the Indian Express.