Delhi: 18-yr-old Muslim boy dies in police custody, family alleges torture

On February 14, the family of the 18-year-old Zeeshan Malik received the news of his demise after they rushed to the Deen Dayal Upadhayay Hospital following a phone call from the Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Hari Nagar Police Station, Neranjan Kumar, claiming that Malik was unwell and had been admitted to the hospital.

“My mother fainted upon seeing my brother’s body,” Malik’s sister, Nargis was quoted by Maktoob Media as saying. The police had informed the family that the young man had pain in his chest and a vein in his brain had burst.

Malik who was a repairman lived in the slums of Preet Vihar and was taken into custody on November 20, 2021, for allegedly stealing a cigarette packet.

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Malik had been lodged in Tihar jail since, however, the family said that they have not been provided with a copy of the FIR or transfer papers to Tihar Jail.

While the police claim that Malik died due to illness, the family has alleged custodial murder and has cited bruise marks and broken bones as proof.

Maktoob Media also quoted Malik’s neighbour, Mohammad Afzal, as saying that he saw the wound’s on Malik’s body during Ghusul (final ablution before burial).

“I gave ghusal to Zeeshan. He had wounds on his ribs and an injury mark on his neck. His shoulder was broken and it seemed as if he was hit with sticks on his shoulder repeatedly. Both his legs and one of his elbows were also broken. There was a mark on his stomach as if they had pierced a rod into his body. He can’t have died due to an illness. They murdered him,” Afzal told Maktoob Media.

Malik is survived by his father (45), mother (41), two brothers, and three sisters who are now demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into his death. Two of Zeeshan’s siblings are handicapped.

Following a protest by over 100 residents of Malik’s colony on February 17, demanding justice, the police assured them that they would “co-operate” with his family.

A letter (written on a paper with no letterhead) signed by Hira Lal, SHO of Preet Vihar Police Station stated that the body and documents related to the post-mortem would be handed over to the family, however, the family has alleged that no post mortem report has been handed over to them, yet.

Zeeshan was buried in Khureji Kabristan (graveyard) after Maghrib (after sunset) prayers on 17 February.

Police officers often escape punishment following custodial deaths and the victim’s family is seldom provided with financial compensation.

In November 2021, a 22-year-old Muslim, Mohammad Altaf, died in police custody in the Kasganj district of Uttar Pradesh. While the police claimed suicide, the family suggested a foul play on the part of the police.

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