Several publications reported this week that a youth named Rizwan Ahmed from Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkar Nagar district had died after he was allegedly ‘beaten up’ by police for stepping out during lockdown.
The publications quoted Ahmed‘s father Israil as saying that Rizwan had stepped out to buy biscuits on 15 April when he was stopped by a female inspector and other police officers at the local post office.
He was then allegedly ‘beaten up’ by cops with lathis. ‘Scared’ of violating lockdown, Rizwan was treated at home with ‘desi’ remedies, but was later admitted to a hospital in Asopur, from where he was referred to the district hospital.
Rizwan died at the district hospital, as per his father, who also reportedly gave a written complaint to the police.
The case was covered by several major English newspapers including The Hindu, Outlook India and The Telegraph. (The first two publications said Rizwan, a daily-wager, was 22 while the third said he was 19).
It was also picked up by political rivals of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.
On 18 April, the official handle of the UP Congress posted a video in which Israil was seen ‘pleading’ to the UP Police. The party said that the incident reminds one of the British Raj.
The same day, Samajwadi Party’s official handle posted the TV media clip on the Twitter and labelled Ambedkar Nagar Police as ‘inhumane’.
However, on 19 April, the Ambedkar Nagar Police rebutted the reports, saying that Rizwan was not beaten up by the police at all.
The police cited the post-mortem report of the deceased and also put up a video testimony by a local hakeem supporting the police’s version.
In a statement put out on Twitter, the police said (as translated by this correspondent):
“In the post-mortem report, no mark of lathi has been found on the body of the deceased. In the report, infection in heart and lungs of the deceased has been found. All the injuries on the deceased were due to his falling from motorcycle, which has been testified by a local doctor whose video is also available. According to medical report made by the CHC doctor, the injuries were found to be 5-6 days old. The allegations on the police are baseless and false.”
The Ambedkar Nagar Police then posted a video of one Abdul Hakeem, who said he was the family doctor of the deceased. Hakeem supported the police’s version. Hakeem is seen saying that when Rizwan came to him for treatment, his family made no mention of the police beating.
Apart from this, the police’s handle also posted a video byte of the Additional Superintendent of Police. He also denied the claims of media reports and cited the post-mortem report, the statement from family doctor and that of the CHS doctor.
A report in The Hindu on April 19 said that Israil, however, continues to stand by his statement blaming police for his son’s death.
Harshil Mehta is a columnist who writes on international relations, diplomacy, and national issues. He tweets @MehHarshil.
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