18, Feb 2023 | Tanya Arora
In a shocking incident depicting both police brutality and custodial torture, Mohammed Khadeer Khan, aged 35, died on February 16 while receiving treatment at the Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad after being allegedly subjected to third-degree custodial torture. The 35-year-old had been detained by the Medak Police on suspicion of theft.
On January 29, Khadeer Khan was apprehended by the Medak Police in Hyderabad from Yakutpura as a suspect in a theft case. He was illegally detained for five days while being subjected to third-degree torture before being placed under house arrest without access to medical care. On February 2, the police had released him and asked him to lie about his detention.
A video has been posted on social media wherein Khadeer Khan is seen lying on a hospital bed. He recalls the brutal torture that he was subjected to, starts by providing that the police had kept accusing him of theft. Even after he had refused of committing any crime, they brought him to Medak police station via a car. He states that for 2 hours, he was hung upside down and beaten by the police. He says that he was beaten by sticks on his feet and hands.
He then says that he has not been able to move his hands and feet since then. He further states that the police let him go, after having subjected him to custodial torture, because they were “doubtful” regarding his involvement. He provided that he had been detained on January 29, and was let go on February 2. On his release, he stated in a declaration, that the police had tried to coerce him into lying that he was detained the same morning of his release.
In his statement (dying declaration?), Khadeer also said that they wanted him to sign a statement saying that he was detained and released on the same day, and when he refused, someone else did it. He then showed the person who was interviewing him that his hand is not functioning.
He then proceeds to take the names of the police personnel who had illegally detained him, specifying the ones who had tortured him the most. Khadeer then says that even though he kept reiterating that he had not committed this crime, the two police officers kept beating and torturing him repeatedly, without paying any head to what he was saying. He also says that his sister’s name was also ruined in Hyderabad.
The video can be viewed here:
On January 29th, Mohd Khadeer Khan was apprehended by Medak Police in Hyderabad from Yakutpura as a suspect in a theft case. He was illegally detained for 5 days while being subjected to third-degree torture before being placed under house arrest without access to medical care. pic.twitter.com/hMiQTrLudy
— Meer Faisal (@meerfaisal01) February 17, 2023
On Thursday, February 16, while availing treatment at the state-run Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, Khadeer succumbed to his injuries. His wife, Siddeshwari, provided that the deceased’s body has been preserved in the hospital for the autopsy report, which can establish the reasons for his death. His wife said that Khadeer suffered multiple fractures, dislocation of the spine and renal fracture as a result of the custodial torture.
Despite the allegations made by the deceased’s wife and the graphic details provided by Khadeer about the torture he endured, the police are yet to file a First Information Report about his death, and the autopsy has also been delayed. Activist Ahmed, the Medak unit secretary of the civil rights organization Human Rights Forum (HRF), stated that because the wife is Hindu, the police are investigating the petition for a FIR. According to the News Minute, the autopsy can only be performed after the police file a case, and they are awaiting the approval of the Medak Town police.
Ahmed also stated that the deceased was initially admitted to Medak Government Hospital. However, as his health deteriorated, he was transferred to Hyderabad for better care. “He was initially admitted to a private hospital, but we later transferred him to Gandhi Hospital,” Ahmed explained as he spoke to the News Minute.
As reported by the News Minute, Siddeshwari had filed a petition to the District Collector on February 9 against the Medak district Superintendent Rohini Priyadarshini, Sub Inspector Rajasekhar, and two constables – Pavan and Prashanth. His wife also claimed that Khadeer was tortured and forced to confess to the crime, and that Khadeer couldn’t walk because of his injuries.
The DSP, has however, denied any foul play in Khadeer’s death. “We had arrested him by following the procedure. He was released after presenting him before the Mandal Revenue Officer. It could be that he died of sickness,” the DSP had told The News Minute.
Thus, while a young Muslim man is dead, the police is protected with the prevalent climate of impunity available to them. While it is unclear regarding the role that Khadeer’s religion played in the torture that he was subjected to, we cannot rule the possibility of targeted bias, given the current socio-political environment.
In the recent budget session of the Parliament, the Union Government had provided statistics on the number of people that had died in custody in the year 2022. As per the answer provided by the Union minister of state for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, across the country, the number of persons who died in police custody rose from 100 in 2020-21 to 175 in 2021-22. He had also provided that financial relief worth Rs 5.80 crore has been granted to victims in 201 cases, while disciplinary action has been taken in one case.
Human rights of the minorities and marginalized communities, and those who stand at the intersection of both, are violated by those in power on a daily basis. It takes years for the kin of the deceased many years to prove that a crime was committed against them, and to attain the (meagre) monetary benefits that are granted to them by the government. In most of these cases, the police officers accused of committing the crime are rather suspended for saving face, or not subjected to any punishment.
For a country that claims to be a welfare state, whose rights are we actually protecting?