In an unexpected twist in the investigation of the death of suspected thief Mohammad Khadeer Khan in police custody in Medak, the Telangana High Court on Monday, 20 February, took up the case suo motu based on reports published in the media.
The high court’s division bench, comprising Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice N Tukaramji, will hear the case on Tuesday.
The deceased, 37-year-old Mohammed Khadeer Khan, a daily wage labourer, was laid to rest on Saturday in Medak after he succumbed to his injuries on Thursday night in Gandhi Hospital.
Meanwhile, four Medak cops were suspended on Sunday following a complaint lodged by Khadeer’s wife Farzana Khan (known as Siddeshwari before she converted and got married to Khadeer).
“Suspension is only constituent to the incident to show that they are responsible. The wife’s complaint and the investigating officer’s (IO) probe are most important for the court to examine the allegations,” retired Justice and former Telangana State Human Rights Commission (TSHRC) member Nimma Narayana told South First.
The suspended policemen are Circle Inspector Madhu, Sub-Inspector Rajasekhar, and Constables Prashanth and Pavan Kumar, Medak Superintendent of Police (SP) Rohini Priyadarshini told reporters.
Meanwhile, the AIMIM, taking serious exception to the use of third-degree interrogation, demanded on Saturday that the policemen responsible for Khadeer’s death should be tried for murder.
Telangana DGP Anjani Kumar on Saturday ordered Warangal IG Chandrasekhar Reddy to investigate the case and initiate disciplinary action against the inspector and sub-inspector involved in the case.
.@KTRBRS, One Mohd Khadeer Khan-35 was picked up by Medak Police from Yakutpura,Hyd on 29th Jan as a suspect in a theft case & kept in illegal custody for 5 days tortured to third degree and later kept in house arrest denied medical help./1 @mahmoodalitrs @TelanganaDGP @spmedak pic.twitter.com/n7AgfAfVpU
— Amjed Ullah Khan MBT (@amjedmbt) February 9, 2023
‘Husband tortured by police’
As per Khadeer’s wife’s complaint, accessed by South First, the cops forcibly entered the house of Khadeer’s sister on 2 February, thrashed him, and brought him to the Medak Police Station.
“The police told me that they were doing it as per instructions of the SP to catch my husband in a gold theft case and interrogate him,” Siddeshwari said in the complaint, adding that her husband was “beaten black and blue” and pressured to confess to the theft.
Shaikh Ahmed, vice-president of the civil rights organisation Human Rights Forum (HRF), had told South First that the SP also threatened to put him behind bars.
“She asked me not to help the victim. On the action taken, she just said that the three accused cops had been transferred,” he said.
Khadeer was returned to his wife by the cops on 3 February.
“On the same day, he was taken to Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) of Medak and he was unable to sign due to the severe beating by the police. The policemen themselves signed on one of the papers and let him off,” Siddeshwari alleged.
While the cops later had him house-arrested, Khadeer’s health deteriorated, following which he was admitted first to Medak Government Hospital and later to Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad.
Khadeer alleged torture
In his video, Khadeer alleged that he was kept in custody for five days and beaten up by policemen though he kept telling them that he was innocent.
“The cops said the person involved looks like me. They hung me upside down for two hours, subjected me to third-degree interrogation and assaulted me. They beat me on my legs, hands, and all over my body. My hands and legs are not functioning now.” he alleged.
He added, “In a bid to save myself, I agreed that I would confess to the theft. But the cops said they want the recovery of the ornaments as well, which I said I did not have. So they thrashed me again.”
Khadeer alleged that the cops threatened him saying that his family was in the next room, and that they would be stripped naked and rats set loose on them if he did not get them the ornaments.