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Mother wants son’s body exhumed

After her son died in police custody, Mehrunissa Sheikh — claiming the police beat him to death — approached the Bombay High Court to get her son’s body exhumed for a detailed post-mortem. Urvi Mahajani & Rachna Pratihar report.

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2009 01:24 IST

After her son died in police custody, Mehrunissa Sheikh — claiming the police beat him to death — approached the Bombay High Court to get her son’s body exhumed for a detailed post-mortem.

The division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi has now asked Additional Public Prosecutor K V Saste to file a reply by Wednesday.

Sheikh, a maid, filed the petition alleging her son Altaf (22) was killed in custody by the police, who later said he died of a drug overdose.

On September 9, Altaf was picked up from his Vikhroli home at 4 am and taken to the police station. That evening, Sheikh got a call from the police saying Altaf had been injured and admitted to Rajawadi hospital.

When she reached the hospital, she saw Altaf dead on a stretcher, with injuries on his head, neck and body, and his hair matted with blood, argued her lawyer Yug Chaudhary.

There was also a blood clot on his head, and froth at his mouth, her petition says. Chaudhary argued that Altaf’s post-mortem report says he died of a head injury.

The report shows his address as “c/o Ghatkopar police station”; the “Brought by” column says “PSI Shinde”.
“This clearly shows he was in police custody when he was taken to the hospital. However, no FIR has been registered against the officers concerned,” Chaudhary argued.

The law calls for a magisterial inquiry in the event of custodial death but, “it has been over a month since Altaf’s death, and no inquiry has begun yet”, argued Chaudhary.

After Altaf’s death, Additional Commissioner of Police (East) Ritesh Kumar, and Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajkumar Vartak called a press conference to say Altaf died of a drug overdose, the petition says. Sheikh has asked for the officers’ transfer pending the inquiry, as well as Rs 25 lakh as compensation

Family says police want them to withdraw case

The family of 22-year-old Altaf Sheikh has alleged the Mumbai Crime Branch, which is investigating his death, has been asking them to withdraw their petition asking for a detailed post-mortem.

“The investigators have been trying to negotiate with us and have asked us to withdraw the case, claiming a drug overdose led to his death, and that the policemen were not at fault,” claimed Aslam Sheikh, Altaf’s elder brother.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Deven Bharti said: “I can’t comment, the case is under investigation. The petition has been filed before the high court, we will give it a suitable reply.”

The family, including Altaf’s two brothers, Akbar (and his wife and son) and Aslam, sister Yasmin and mother Mehrunissa, have been living in a 200-sq-ft house in a chawl in Vikhroli’s Parksite slums. Altaf’s father, who lives with his second wife, visits them occasionally.

After the incident, the Crime Branch has frequently summoned the family for inquiry. “Even when recording our statements, I told them my version, but the officials still wrote whatever they wanted to write. They didn’t even show me the recorded statement,” Mehrunissa told Hindustan Times.

Losing hope of getting justice from the police, they approached the HC. “I have faith in God that we will win the case,” added Mehrunissa.

With Altaf’s death, the family has lost the income he brought home from his job as a driver with Dsouza Travels at Ghatkopar (West).