Rights

Tabrez Ansari Lynching: Jharkhand Police Bring Back Murder Charge Against 11 Accused

The police had earlier used the fact that the cause of Ansari's death was listed as 'cardiac arrest' to remove the murder charge.

New Delhi: A little more than a week after the police decided not to charge the accused in the Tabrez Ansari lynching case with murder, the charge has been brought back. The police’s decision to remove murder had led to widespread outrage, with Ansari’s wife even saying that she would self-immolate if the charge was not brought back.

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.

The police had used the fact that the cause of Ansari’s death was listed as ‘cardiac arrest’ to remove the murder charge. However, on Wednesday, they said that in the first chargesheet, “opinion on the cause of death” was kept “reserved”, Indian Express reported. Now, the police said, they have “additional evidence” to back up the murder charge, including the opinion sought from a second medical board of directors. The second board added “injury” to the cause of death.

Also read | Lynching: A Very Short Story

The first chargesheet against the 11 accused only mentioned culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

“It is clear that in the previous chargesheet, doctors had reserved their opinion on the cause of death as per post mortem report received by police. After the viscera report was received, doctors said that death was due to cardiac arrest,” a statement by police said on Wednesday, on filing the second chargesheet.

“I am happy that the accused will now be facing murder charges. We will not let anyone off the hook,” Ansari’s wife Sahista Pervez told The Hindu.

Calling the lynching “unfortunate”, Union minister of state for home affairs G. Kishan Reddy had previously said that the Centre would speak to the Jharkhand government about reinstating the murder charge.

Also read | The India in Which Tabrez Ansari Died Continues to Live

As The Wire has reported before, 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.