PUCL Bulletin, March 2001

A PUCL-Delhi Report:
Killing of Mohmad Irshad by Delhi police in broad daylight on a busy thoroughfare


It was noon time on 12-10-2000, Mohmad Irshad told his family members that he would take his lunch after bringing his son Danish from school. As he was bringing home his 3 years old son from Walia Public School on his two wheeler, on the way, a cycle rickshaw puller hit the scooter from the back. A scuffle with the rickshaw puller followed. In the meantime, two policemen on beat came and intervened in typical police style. Later two more joined the fray. They first hit the rickshaw puller with lathis, which he quietly bore and ran away. Then they started hitting Irshad, which he resisted. Irshad, as one eye witness told the PUCL team, tried to tell these policemen that as he had not committed any crime he should not be beaten up. This was such a big crime in the eyes of Delhi Police that he was beaten to death in most brutal manner. Mr. Prabhatilal Garg, 75 year old eye-witness told the visiting PUCL team 'tSls mldks ekjk oSls tkuoj dks Hkh ugha ekjrs-*

The young child Danish was a witness to this ghastly murder. The other eye-witnesses told us that throughout this beating Danish was in the lap of his father who was protecting the child from being hit by the police. Finally when he could not bear the beatings and the end came, he just kissed the child and collapsed. One of the stunned eye-witness brought Danish home. He told the family members about the whole incident and suggested the family members to go to the police station. Danish reported that "iqfyl us ikik dks MUMs ls ekjk] ikik us esjh iIih yh vkSj fxj x,-**

All these details have been published in the media. On 16-04-2000 PUCL-Delhi team headed by its President Justice Ram Bhusan Mehrotra, Gopa Joshi and L.D. Pancholi, went to Md. Irshad's residence C-14/14-C, Street No.4, Rishi Kardam Marg, Chauhan Nagar, New Seelam Pur, New Delhi-110053. The team members expressed their condolence to Irshad's family members comprising of grand-mother, father, mother, wife, brothers and other relatives. They also got the family members' version of the incident. To get the first hand account of the incident the team members went to the spot where the murder had taken place--street No. 10, Gautam Puri. At the street no.10 Gautam Puri the team members met the eye witnesses Md. Iqbal, Laiek Ahmad, Ajay Sharma, Gayasuddin, Pawan Kumar Jain, Prabhailal Garg and a host of others who gave first hand account of the incident.

The Witnesses Account of the Incident:
The eye-witnesses corroborated the media version of the incident. They added that once Md. Irshad was dead, the policemen wanted to depose the dead body in a solitary place and implicate someone else for the crime. Hence, they wanted to run away with the dead body. However, the people who were numbed when the gruesome killing was taking place before their eyes recovered from the shock and started gathering near the place of crime. To stop the people from collecting the police resorted to lathi change and public started withdrawing. At this moment Mr. Prabhatilal Garg 75 year old man came forward and implored the public not to run away like cowards but face the bullets in their chests. He volunteered to be an eye-witness to the Incident. When the family members reached to the scene of the crime looking for Irshad he suggested them to go to the hospital. He also went to the hospital with the family members. There he was not allowed to lodge an F.I.R. At this he started shouting loudly that the police had killed Irshad. This forced the authorities to relent and he was allowed to record his statement.

He was very critical of police's role in the area. He said the police was responsible for all illegal activities in the area. Police takes it share from the miscreants in the locality. Even the hospital people, he accused, are in league with the police. The witnesses feared that the police would try to take revenge "xokgksa ij iqfyl dh Vs<+h fuxkg gS"*** They wanted civil liberties organizations like the PUCL to protect the witnesses from the police.

Their fear was confirmed by Shri Pawan Kumar Jain, another eye witness from the side of the victim's family. Mr. Jain told the investigating team that the Police came to his home at 2a.m. to record his statement. He refused to go to police station on the night of 12-10-2000.

To save their skin the police tried to give it a communal colour. They started saying that Gautam Puri residents beat him up. But the residents of Gautam Puri resisted. Mr. Garg, for example, did not allow the policemen to remove the dead body of Mateen Ahmad. A lot of muslims also came forward to give evidence against the police. When Mr. Garg went out on the road he saw four policemen, three in plain clothes and one in uniform.

To get the police version, on 24th, the PUCL team went to the office of Mr. S.C. Gautam, DCP, Seelampur. We reached there at 2 p.m. and instantly sent our visitors' card along with a note on the purpose of our visit through his P.A. The P.A. assured us that as soon as the DCP is free he would call us. However, the DCP kept us waiting for two hours. Just before leaving the office he sent his assistant to call everybody waiting to meet him in the visitors room. In his room the DCP did not even glance at the PUCL-team. After signing some papers brought by his subordinates, he just got up and said he was leaving. Mr. N.D. Pancholi, one of the team-member, ran after him and told him the purpose of our visit. The DCP did not stop to listen to him. While sitting in the car, he told Mr. Pancholi that the case was with Mr. P.K. Srivastava, of Crime Branch. Beyond this, he added that he could not give us any information. The PUCL-team made repeated unsuccessful efforts to contact Mr. P.K. Srivastava. Thus the police version of the incident could not be obtained in spite of repeated efforts to contact the concerned police personnel.

'The people foiled attempts communalise the incident', "iqfyl okys ykblsal'kqnk xqUMsgSa fdlh dks ugha cD'krs"**** said Mr. Prabhatilal Garg. It was heartening to learn that people especially the eye-witnesses came to the help of the victim's family and gave evidence against the police without caring for their own security. This becomes more important in the context of the role of police there in the normal times. The eye-witnesses said that the police was never interested in containing anti-social elements like drug traffickers etc. They (the police) are always interested in finding ways and means of extracting money from the people. As one of them said that money could convert any illegal action into a legal one. The law-abiding citizens are always forced by the police to part with money on flimsy pretexts. Probably, it was the fear of police, that the eyewitnesses could not come to the victim's rescue when he was being beaten to death.

The team members were told by the eyewitnesses that after the death of the victim, the police tried to give it a communal colouring by saying, that, he (Irshad) was beaten by the members of the locality. This alarmed the residents of Gautam Puri who joined hands in undoing the police propaganda and providing the necessary social support to the aggrieved family. Irshad's family, in their hour of grief, appreciated the way the Hindu men and women came forward to give evidence against the police. They were hurt with the behavior of the policemen at the police station. They said that the ACP Mr. Daulat Ram knew that, Md. Irshad had been killed by the policemen. But he misguided the family members, who had gone to the police station to know the whereabouts of the victim. The family members as well as the eyewitnesses were also amazed at the findings of the 1st post-mortem report which said that the death was due to heart failure. The eyewitnesses said that the policemen first repeatedly hit his private parts. Finally, one of them hit him on the chest with his elbow. The eyewitness were also amazed at the postmortem report that there were no signs of injury in his body. They said that he was beaten so heard with hands and feet that his private parts were virtually crushed. How such injuries did not figure in the post mortem report, they are unable to fathom.

While the police had left no stone unturned to hush up the case, the father of the victim is crying for justice. He is a proud father, who says his sons are law abiding citizens and do not have any bad habits. As this son had shouldered full responsibility of running the family business, he was feeling the loss of bread earner. The mother was worried about the safety of the child who is an eyewitness to the ghastly crime. She was also concerned about the future of Irshad's 22 year old wife who is expecting another child. As far as the wife was concerned, she was too shocked to utter a word.

The younger brother also seemed to be shocked and confused. In the absence of Irshad, the family does not know how to manage its economy. The youngest two brothers are still studying. It seems with Irshad's death the family is rudderless.

Recommendations:

1. Compensation and support to the aggrieved family.
2. Protection from police harassment to the eye witnesses.
3. Stringent measures to root out the law violating habits of law enforcing people. These measures have been elaborated in the reports of the Police Commission, Padam Rosha and others.

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