HYDERABAD: The police inquiry into the recent custodial death of a suspect, Babar Khanzada, has concluded that as per the medical report, he committed suicide in the lock-up of the Tando Allahyar police station.

It found that the suspect was a drug addict, not a drug seller. The claim made in the FIR about 1,000 mainpuri packets having been recovered from him was foisted on him, therefore, the FIR should be cancelled, the report said.

The inquiry committee recommended “major departmental action” against Inspector Imtiaz Domki, SI Imam Ali Bhangwar and six other officers and personnel, besides “minor action” against CIA’s Tando Allahyar DSP Usman Leghari and two others.

The others who will face action are SI Imran Akhtar Chandio, head constable Yaqoob Bijarani, sentries Aslam Rajput and Sikandar Ali Bhanojo and constables Hammadullah, Dilsher and Irfan Ali Daheri.

The probe committee has found constable Irfan Daheri as the “mastermind of criminal negligence”.

It recommended abolition and reformation of the Tando Allahyar CIA centre observing that in some districts, CIA had become “source of patronising anti-social crimes and extortion”.

The committee was headed by Shaheed Benazirabad DIG Mazhar Nawaz Sheikh with the SSPs of Hyderabad and Shaheed Benazirabad being its other members. Its report has been submitted to IG Mushtaq Mahar.

The report suggested that as per the post-mortem report, Babar Khanzada committed suicide with a handmade rope of pillow cloth.

All physical and circumstantial evidence revealed that the CIA police registered a false case against the deceased and foisted fake recovery on him in connivance with constable Irfan Daheri, it said.

The allegations by deceased’s sister against constable Daheri of exerting undue pressure, harassment and demanding bribe seemed to be correct as he was [the family’s] immediate neighbour and had approached the family when the case was registered, the report mentioned.

It noted that keeping the suspect in safe custody under SOPs was not observed as per the Police Rules; lock-up was not situated in the main building of the police station but 200 yards away from it, hence out of sight and without the direct supervision of the SHO, duty officer and writer head constable.

It said that the CIA staff and A-Section police under inquiry did not perform duties as per the Police Rules.

It also found that the deceased was aggressive in nature who could not bear loss of his parents’ untimely death and started taking drugs, like crystal, in his young age.

The report termed the FIR against policemen (registered on the order of DIG Sharjeel Kharal) “a hasty act”.

About the role of CIA, the inquiry committee said it had no role in patrolling, picketing, search and checking. In most districts, CIA comprised “notorious police staff” involved in illegal activities like extortion and patronage of crime. It is recommended that the CIA units involved in illegal activities should either be banned; or reformed in conformity with Police Rules to curb their unlawful activities.

Besides Khanzada, the inquiry report noted, two persons, Irfan Arain alias Fani and Irshad Makrani were in “illegal” custody and kept in the same lock-up. They were shifted to the SHO’s private room which might have prompted Babar to commit suicide. Irshad was later handed over to the B-Section police and Irfan Arain was not shown in any FIR as police were “expecting something” from his family, the report said.

It said: “There is about 200 feet distance between building of police station and lock-ups. Due to irresponsibility and criminal negligence of police Babar stayed unattended to conjoin rope from pillow cloth”. He hanged himself from the bar of the lock door using the rope to commit suicide, it added.

The inquiry committee suggested that police stations’ lock-up should have closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to be monitored and controlled by the SHO/WHC concerned and SSP office.

It further suggested that every lock-up should have a separate sentry who should not be assigned any other duty. It proposed setting up of a joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the murder case registered under FIR No. 69/21.

It said that too many special campaigns by different offices led to a competition and registration of false FIRs, wrong arrests, fake recoveries and hushed-up figures as was evident in the instant case. Therefore, such campaigns be avoided or kept under check.

The inquiry committee said that the medical check-up of any person in custody and in lock-up must be made essential. Arranging meetings and supply of phones, drugs, food and other items in police station go unchecked, thus it be properly regulated, according to the report.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2021

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