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Anis Khan's 'murder': Why no action on WB's responsible police officers?, asks MASUM

Counterview Desk 

The human rights organisation, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), which carried out fact finding of what it calls “intentional murder” of Anis Khan -- a Muslim youth formerly with the CPI-M's Students Federation of India, hailing Sarda Dakshin Khan Para under Khusberia panchayat and Amta block in the district of Howrah, West Bengal -- has accused police personnel of the “heinous crime” of killing him in custody in the Amta Police Station.
A MASUM report in the matter has demanded that the whole incident must be investigated impartially by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), appointed by the state government, and as a policemen arrested in this case have demanded that ‘everything was done under the order and supervision of higher officers’, superior officers officers must be booked and prosecuted.

Text:

The deceased victim Anis Khan was a student leader associated with Students’ Federation of India (SFI) during his time at Amta College and presently he is involved with Indian Secular Front (ISF). He completed his Masters degree from Aliah University and recently got admitted in the University of Kalyani to study Mass Communication. He was also associated with various social activities in his local area.
On May 22, 2021 one blood donation camp had been organized in the village of Sarda Dakshin Khan Para by Jana Sasthya Suraksha o Adhikar Mancha and Anis Khan was the main organizer of the camp. 
But on May 21, 2021 in evening the vice president of Kushberia Gram Panchayat and local booth president of Trinamool Congress (TMC) Malek Khan and his elder son Masud Khan and their associates openly threatened Anis Khan with dire consequences, saying, “We will not let you to organize blood donation camp in the village, or else, the result will be worse”.
They also accused Anis for influencing voters against TMC in the recent legislative assembly election of West Bengal. On the same day at about 7 pm those people criminally trespassed the house of Anis Khan and vandalized the property and tortured upon his family members.
On the next day Jahangir Khan and Ali Hossain Khan and other TMC people criminally trespassed the house of the Anis’ uncle and vandalized and destroyed the property. As a result of constant threats, he suffers from extreme insecurity and left his home.
On May 24, 2021 Anis Khan lodged written complaint to the Officer in Charge, Amta Police Station; Superintendent of Police, Howrah Rural; Block Development Officer, Amta II; Sub Divisional Police Officer and Sub Divisional Officer, Uluberiya Sub-Division; District Magistrate, Howrah; Home Secretary, State of West Bengal; Governor, West Bengal; Chairperson, Human Rights Commission, West Bengal and Chairperson, Women Commission.
On February 19, 2022 Anis returned back his home after attending one Muslim religious Congregation (Jalsha) at Paschim Khanpara, adjacent to his house. On the said day at about 1.10 am 3 policemen and 1 armed police from Amta Police Station came to the house of Anis and banged the door. 
They shouted in hoarse voice that they were from Amta police station and came to his home because there is a pending POCSO case against Anis in Bagnan police station and Anis is absconding and evading arrest.
While Salem Khan, father of Anis Khan opened the door, he found 3 persons in police uniform and one in regular police uniform and holding a ‘rifle’ stood in front. As he had no idea about the presence of Anis in the house, he said ‘Anis is not at home’, but the raiding party told him that they had information that Anis was in home. Then three police climbed through the staircase and the regular police personal restricted the movement of Salem Khan by putting rifle barrel upon his chest.
Within one or two minute he heard a bang in front of his home; the three civic police hurriedly came down then and along with them the regular police personal fled from the scene. There was no vehicular noise while they came and escape. Salem Khan found his son is lying in front of the house with grievous head injuries. He immediately took his injured son to the Bagnan hospital by one maruti van of the neighbour.
But in the middle of the road when he found that his son became lifeless, he returned back to his house and informed Amta Police station. But after spending one full night, no police personnel from Amta Police Station came there though the distance from the police station and Anis’ house is less than 20 minutes.
In the next morning, on February 19, at about 9.30 am the police personnel came to their house and took the body of Anis with them. The police personnel told to the family members of the victim to come to the Amta Police Station. 
When the family members of the victim went to the Amta Police Station they did not see the body of Anis. From the Police Station they were informed that Anis’ body was sent to the Ulubaria Hospital. The family members of the victim again rushed to the Uluberia Hospital.
When they reached to Uluberia Hospital, they found that the post mortem examination (PME) of the deceased victim Anis Khan was completed. No family members were present during the PME as when the family members reached the hospital, the PME was already done. At around 2:30 pm, the body was handed over to the family and burial was done at around 6:30 pm.
Till date the PME  report is not handed over to the family of the deceased. PME of Anis Khan was done by Dr Soumya Roy attached with Uluberia sub-divisional hospital, with PME No 133 dated February 19, 2022. Dr Sudip Ranjan Karar is the Superintendent of Uluberia Sub Divisional Hospital.
Sagira Bibi, elder sister of Anis Khan, told our fact finding members that she was at her in- laws place, which is 5-6 kilometers from Anish’s home, while she heard about the incident at around 2.00 am she rushed for her maiden home, en route there was an ongoing Jalsa (religious congregation) at Paschim Khanpara just adjacent to the place of occurrence, where she confronted with 4 police personnel, while they enquired about her movement on the wee hours, she narrated the truth that her brother faced an incident but the mentioned, police asked her to return to her in- laws house.

What we saw

On February 23, our fact finding team visited Amta police station and talked with Krishnendu Ghosh Dastidar, Sub- Divisional Police Officer, to get the information regarding the death case of Anis Khan. According to him a case was registered on February 19, 2022 vide Amta PS Case No 48/22 under sections 302/201/34.
The complainant was Salem Khan, the father of the deceased. Previously the DSP-DNT was appointed as the Investigating Officer of the case but later the case has been transferred to SIT (Special Investigating Team) headed by ADG-CID. 
He claimed that Anis Khan was FIR named accused in 4-5 criminal cases, including a case related POCSO Act, but he did not share the details of those cases. The cases were registered during 2017-2018 and 2019.
Anis Khan and his sister-in-law made few complaints related to threat and intimidation by few of their neighbors and political leaders. He claimed that all were duly redressed. He even made complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and with direction from NHRC that complaint was redressed too.
He mentioned according to PME report there was injury on the right side of the head and knees of the deceased victim and ante mortem in nature. While asked specifically whether Anis Khan was drunken at the time of death, he purposefully kept mum. He had no knowledge about family’s request for copy of PME report. 
He also informed the team that one sub-inspector and two civic police, attached to Amta police station have been suspended due to dereliction of duty on their part as they were in duty at the place and time of the occurrence.
He informed us that they have registers and corresponding registers related to movement of officials attached with police station, from those registers they obtained evidences against them and their non performance of duty at the time and place of the occurrence. The investigation of the case of murdering Anis Khan is not lying with Amta police now; it has been taken over by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) as ordered by Government of West Bengal.
The team that one sub-inspector and two civic police, attached to Amta police station have been suspended due to dereliction of duty on their part as they were in duty at the place and time of the occurrence.
Anis' house
He informed us that they have registers and corresponding registers related to movement of officials attached with police station, from those registers they obtained evidences against them and their non-performance of duty at the time and place of the occurrence. The investigation of the case of murdering Anis Khan is not lying with Amta police now; it has been taken over by the SIT as ordered by the Government of West Bengal.
While the Fact Finding team was present at Anis’ house, the members of SIT and Block Development Officer of Amta Block II made visit to the house of the deceased and trying to force them for a consent for exhumation of the body for another fresh PME but the family refused to give them the consent and was firm on transfer of the case for CBI investigation or a court’s direction for the same; in front of several media men.
The family members of Anis were asking several questions before the authorities regarding malpractices of the administration; even family refused to hand over the mobile phone of Anis to the member of the SIT.
Our team visited Kushberia Gram Panchayat office and talked with the member of the Panchayat Sabina Bibi did not come forward to stand beside the family.
Afterwards and reactions
On February 23, 2022 the Director General of Police, West Bengal Manoj Malavya stated that one home guard named Kashinath Bera and one civic volunteer named Pritam Bhattacharya of the Amta Police Station were arrested for interrogation purpose. He also admitted that Amta police was involved with this case.
This issue of murder now overwhelmingly circulated through regional and national media.

Anomalies

Fact finding team of MASUM visited the victim’s house, Uluberia Hospital, Amta Police Station, morgue, local Kushberia panchayat office and interviewed with several policemen, health workers, panchayat members, family members of the victim, neighbors and others. Several questions/ facts were raised during our fact finding. We want to put down here:
  • This is an intentional murder by the police personnel of Amta Police station.
  • If the police personnel came to arrest Anis Khan then why they did not do so?
  • Why police entered into the house of the victim at middle of the night by violating the provision of section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure?
  • Why the complaint of Anis Khan dated May 24, 2021 was not registered / steps taken by the Amta police?
  • Previously, Anis lodged complaint against local TMC leaders who constantly threatened him and his family members. The police administration totally failed to provide security to the victim and to take proper action against the hoodlums. It shows that Amta police was partisan to deal this case.
  • The police personnel of Amta Police Station came to the place of occurrence after more than seven hours of informing the incident while the distance of Amta Police Station from Anis’ house is 20 minutes. Is it to ensure that Anis will be dead by that time?
  • Who, when and where was it declared that Anis Khan was dead?
  • Who, when and where done inquest over the body of Anis Khan according to procedure?
  • The dead body of the victim was taken to Uluberia hospital for PME by police. But they did not inform the family members of the victim. Why this intentional negligence done by police?
  • Was the PME of the victim video graphed?
  • Under order of whom the inquest was done and under which section of Criminal Procedure Code? Why the family members were not informed about their presence during the time of inquest of the deceased?
  • Guidelines framed and circulated by NHRC in the case of arbitrary execution on Mar, 1997 was not followed by local police of Amta police station. Why?
  • Why the police personnel of Amta Police Station do not provide FIR copy though section 154 (2) clearly stated to deliver the copy of the FIR to the complainant free of cost?
  • Under supervision of police PME was conducted by Dr Soumya Roy. Why and for what reason the total process was done so hurriedly and haphazardly?
  • Why PME was not delivered to the family members of the deceased?
  • The police of Howrah Rural district, the prosecution and the medico legal officers did not follow the Minnesota protocol while conducting autopsy.
  • Why the FIR copy vides Amta Police Station case number 48/22 dated February 19, 2022 was not uploaded in the website of the Amta Police Station and therefore violated the guidelines in the apex court judgment in Youth Bar Association case? Is it for suppression of facts to the people of India?
  • Why only two persons were arrested when the complaint of this case is against involvement of many others of Amta Police Station and local administration for extra judicial killing of Anis Khan?
In this regard we demand:
  • The whole incident must be investigated impartially.
  • SIT has to prove that they will investigate the crime of killing one youth with clear hands.
  • As the policemen arrested in this case have demanded that ‘everything was done under the order and supervision of higher officers’; so many other superior officers in different line offices are involved with this case. So, the guilty officers must be booked and prosecuted.
  • The personnel and officials involved in this heinous crime by omission or commission of duties, respectively, be booked in this case.
  • Stern penal action must be taken against Malek Khan, local TMC booth president and his elder son Masud Khan for continuous threat upon the victim and vandalism in the house of the family members of the victim.
  • The personnel and officials involved in this case must be booked with fabricating false evidences, using as true a certificate known to be false, causing disappearance of evidence of offence, giving false information respecting an offence committed, false charge of offence made with intent to injure and public servant in judicial proceeding corruptly making report.
  • Proper compensation must be provided to the family members of the deceased victim.
  • Effective investigation must be taken based on the guidelines of the Istanbul protocol and Minnesota protocol.
  • Proper security and safety of the family members of the victims must be ensured.
  • Immediate direction should be given to the concerned authority to provide PME report, inquest report and FIR copy to the victim’s family.

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