22-yr-old dies in police custody, family alleges he was tortured | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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22-yr-old dies in police custody, family alleges he was tortured

Mystery shrouds the death of a 22-year-old historysheeter at Ghatkopar police station on Friday morning. Rachna Pratihar reports.

mumbai Updated: Sep 12, 2009 01:29 IST
Rachna Pratihar

Mystery shrouds the death of a 22-year-old historysheeter at Ghatkopar police station on Friday morning.

While the police claim drug overdose might have killed Altaf Shaikh (22), the family alleges that he died due to police torture. His mother, Mehrunissa, claimed there were injury marks on his body.

At 4 am, Shaikh, who is employed as a driver, was picked up from his Parksite residence in Vikhroli even as his parents and two brothers protested.

He was detained as a suspect in a number of house break-ins in Ghatkopar.

Five hours later he was found slumped over a bench in the detection room.

“When the senior inspector was taking rounds of the police station at 9 am, he found Shaikh lying on the bench in the detection room. After failing to revive him, the officials rushed him to nearby Rajawadi Hospital. He was declared dead before admission,” said Ritesh Kumar, additional commissioner of police (east region).

The police claimed that Shaikh was high on drugs when he was brought to the station.

“His family too told us that he was a drug addict. We recovered two tablets of a narcotic substance from his house,” said Rajkumar Vatkar, deputy commissioner of police, zone VII.

“There are over 12 cases of chain snatchings and vehicle thefts against Shaikh. He had been externed thrice, the latest on January 2,” said Kumar.

“He was picked up after we received several tip-offs about his involvement in the recent house break-ins at Ghatkopar.”

Shaikh’s body has been sent for post-mortem to JJ Hospital, the results of which will ascertain the cause of death.

But Shaikh’s family and friends, who reached Rajawadi Hospital to claim his body, alleged that it was a case of custodial killing. “At 4 am, four policemen came to our house, threw Altaf on their shoulders, who was half asleep, and left,” said Mehrunissa.

When they asked the policemen why they were taking him, they told the family to come to the police station.

“When I went to the police station at 1.30 pm, they told me that Altaf had been admitted to Rajawadi following a minor head injury,” said his sister-in-law Reshma. The family alleged that the police would often summon Altaf to the police station in some case or the other.

In 2003-06, 17 cases of custodial deaths were reported in Mumbai.