New Delhi: Four months after a 17-year-old died in controversial circumstances while he was returning home from a meat factory in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh, a first information report was lodged against five policemen on charges of allegedly beating him to death.
The case was lodged in Cantonment police station of Bareilly on August 17 on the orders of a chief judicial magistrate court after the father of the boy failed to get an FIR registered directly by police. The Bareilly police had maintained that the teenager, Arkan Ali, had died in an accident.
On the complaint of father Pappu Qureshi, the FIR was lodged against Bithri Chainpur station house officer Ashwini Kumar Chaubey, sub-inspector Dharmendra Kumar, constables Rajesh and Vipin Kandwal and home guard Veerpal. They face charges under culpable homicide not amounting to murder, extortion, criminal conspiracy, wrongful restraint and voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery.
Pappu Qureshi alleged that not only did the policemen assault his son but also robbed Rs 30,400 from him.
The incident took place on April 17 when Arkan had gone to a meat factory Mariya Frozen to collect money for a buffalo he had delivered there. Qureshi says he waited for Arkan till 11.30 pm before he got worried and called him on his mobile. Arkan informed him that he had picked up the money and was on his way home. Then at 11:45 pm, Qureshi says in his police complaint, he received a call from his son’s mobile phone but some unknown person spoke to him. The person on the other side of the phone identified himself as a policeman and asked Qureshi to quickly reach the spot with Rs 50,000 or his son would be booked on charges of cow slaughter, the FIR said.
Qureshi was rattled by this and he quickly summoned other locals and rushed to the Bilal Masjid area in the Cantonment area of Bareilly. He alleged he saw the police inspector, constables and the home guard brutally thrashing his son.
“He was lying on the ground in a pool of blood,” said Qureshi, mentioning that there was a white car and a motorcycle parked at the spot. According to Qureshi, the SHO Chaubey reached the spot with his team after the village Pradhan called him on his phone. However, Qureshi alleged, the SHO defended the policemen and threatened to set their village on fire and shoot them if they kept on arguing.
In his application filed under CrPC 156 (3) in the local court on May 4, Qureshi submitted a video which he says was shot by locals and shows the police officer allegedly threatening them. He alleged his son had died due to the beating and accused the SHO of conspiracy. While the boy’s relatives had alleged that he died of a head injury, there is no clarity or confirmation on the actual nature of the injury or the exact cause.
The autopsy report showed there were “16 injuries” on his son’s body, said Qureshi. However, despite submitting written complaints to the top officers in Bareilly, including the Bareilly senior superintendent of police, the inspector general and the additional director general of police, no FIR was registered, he said. Instead, he says, police filed a false case against him and other villagers for assaulting the team at the spot.
The police had dismissed the allegations of the villagers and on April 18 in a statement said that Arkan had died in a bike accident. “This has been verified by people who live in the locality,” Bareilly police said then, adding that false information and rumours were being spread on social media about the manner of the death.
Soon after the incident, which involved an enraged mob turning upon the police team, then Bareilly senior superintendent of police Prabhakar Chaudhary in a video statement said that police had reached the spot after locals informed them that there had been an accident. “Some mischievous elements of the village reached the site and alleged that the police had shot him. Whereas the incident was purely an accident,” Chaudhary had said then.
Balbir Singh, station house officer of Cantonment police station, where the FIR was lodged, confirmed that the FIR had been lodged and the matter was under investigation. He said the police had evidence to show that the death was an accident. “We have the evidence. It was an accident,” he said.
Singh added that three policemen had been injured after the angry mob had assaulted them after Arkan’s death.
In April, while talking to reporters from his hospital bed, an injured sub-inspector Dharmendra Kumar had said that the mob even tried to snatch his official pistol.