A 22-year-old man, arrested for sharing provocative pictures and messages about beef on a WhatsApp group on October 3, died in judicial custody at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi on Sunday.
A complaint against Minhaz Ansari was lodged with the Narayanpur police station in Jamtara on October 3 and he was detained the same day, police said. The police said Ansari was taken into custody as such provocative messages on social media could have led to communal clashes during Muharram and Durga Puja. Ansari, the administrator of the WhatsApp group, was the only one taken into custody —other members of the group were neither questioned nor detained, police sources said.
The police said Ansari succumbed to Japanese encephalitis in the RIMS intensive care unit (ICU).
“He was suffering from fever and was sent to Sadar Hospital in Jamtara, from where he was referred to Patliputra Medical College and Hospital in Dhanbad. From Dhanbad he was referred to RIMS, where he underwent treatment at the ICU,” Jamtara superintendent of police Manoj Singh said.
Singh said that even though it has been confirmed that the man died due to his illness, the district police have ordered an inquiry in the matter.
Dr. Vidyapati, associate professor at RIMS who treated Ansari, also confirmed that he was suffering from encephalitis. “He was referred to us by PMCH in Dhanbad and was admitted here for the past three days. The cause of death was encephalitis,” said Vidyapati.
However, Ansari’s family claims that he died due to torture by the police. They said they learnt that he had been shifted to a hospital in Dhanbad only two days after his arrest. The family, along with villagers, went to the police station and reportedly got into a scuffle with investigating officer Harish Pathak.
Meanwhile, Pathak himself has been suspended until further notice, police sources said. A senior police official said that though Ansari died of encephalitis, Pathak is liable for answers since he did not bother to care about his medical condition.