A 22-year-old man from Jharkhand’s Jamtara district died after being held in police custody for sending a WhatsApp message that allegedly had an “objectionable message on beef”, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Minhaj Ansari’s family has accused the police of torturing him and a sub-inspector has been booked for murder, though the police said Ansari had also been diagnosed with encephalitis.
Police officers said Sub-Inspector Harish Pathak, who was supposed to oversee proceedings at Narayanpura police station, had been negligent in his duties. He has been suspended, the report added.
According to Jamtara Deputy Commissioner Ramesh Kumar Dubey, Ansari was arrested on October 3 after the WhatsApp message started circulating locally. His family was informed two days later that he had been shifted to Dhanbad after sustaining injuries while in custody. The family filed a complaint against Pathak and were involved in an altercation with him, after which he was booked for attempt to murder. The charge was changed to murder after Ansari died on October 7.
Jamtara SP Manoj Kumar Singh told the English daily that Pathak had not verified Ansari’s medical condition. Singh added that Ansari had been arrested because the message had “the potential to disturb communal peace, coming so close to Dussera and Muharram.” The state government has offered Rs 2 lakh as compensation to Ansari’s family.