“You carried him in your lap and nicely put him to bed…in a very humane manner. When he did not wake up in the morning, you took him to hospital where he was declared dead on admission.”
This is how Bombay High Court judge Justice Bilal Nazki responded to the Mumbai police’s claim that 22-year-old Altaf Sheikh, who died in police custody on September 11, was treated in a “humane” manner.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by Sheikh’s mother Mehrunisa who pleaded that her son’s body be exhumed to establish the real cause of his death. Sheikh’s death, which the division bench of Justice Nazki and Justice A R Joshi called “cold blooded murder”, is the second case of custodial death to haunt the city police.
The first was that of Ghatkopar bomb blast accused Khwaja Yunus in 2003.
The high court made its observations after studying the contradictions in the boy’s post mortem report and the inquest panchnama (report prepared after death).
Mehrunisa’s lawyer, Yug Chaudhary, informed the court that Sheikh’s post mortem report showed seven-eight injury marks while the inquest panchnama showed no injury marks on his body.
The high court also came down heavily on Assistant Commissioner of Police, Prakash Wani for allegedly filing a false affidavit to protect the policemen involved.
Wani’s affidavit stated that the police had treated Sheikh in a “very humane manner” while taking him to the police station.
“They (the police) actually carried him in their arms as he appeared to be drowsy because he was under the influence of strong medicine and was unable to walk,” the affidavit said.
The Ghatkopar police picked Sheikh up from his home on September 11.
He was later found dead in the police station. The high court has asked the doctors who conducted the post mortem to remain present in court on Friday with the final report.