RANCHI: A 22-year-old Muslim youth from India's Jharkhand state arrested less than a week ago for sharing an objectionable comment about beef on WhatsApp died in police custody on Sunday, Indian Express reported.
Minhaj Ansari's family alleged he was beaten up and tortured in police custody, although medical records available with police claim he was suffering from encephalitis.
Police said Ansari was among a group of people arrested Oct 3 for allegedly making objectionable comments about beef on WhatsApp which began circulating in the Dighari village of Narayanpura a day earlier. The others were later released, but Ansari was not.
"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," Jamtara Superintendent Police Manoj Kumar Singh claimed.
His father, Umar Sheikh, claimed the family came to know Ansari had been shifted to Dhanbad for treatment after sustaining injuries in police custody.
On Oct 7, the 22-year-old was shifted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) where he died two days later, according to the Indian daily.
Police officials admitted there were prima facie lapses on the part of the officer-in-charge Sub-Inspector Harish Pathak of the Narayanpura police station where Ansari was detained.
"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," said SP Singh.
Singh, however, denied allegations that Ansari’s family was not informed about his medical condition.
The officer-in-charge has been suspended and nominated in a First Information Report registered by Ansari's family under murder charges.
Ansari's family went to the police station along with other villagers, Jamtara Deputy Commissioner Ramesh Kumar Dubey said.
"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," Dubey added.