The 22-year-old Tabrez Ansari, who was lynched in Jharkhand on June 18, died most likely by a brain haemorrhage triggered by a head injury that was “not detected” by the doctor on duty at a local hospital, said the team that conducted the post-mortem.
According to reports, Tabrez had an injury on the right frontoparietal region, which was left undetected by the doctor at the Sadar Hospital. Ansari was brought in at 7 am on June 18 after the attack. “There is a possibility that this led to effusion or oozing of blood from the skull leading to haemorrhage. This could be a possible cause of death,” said Dr Bariyal Mari, Deputy Superintendent, Sadar Hospital. Right frontoparietal region is the area above the tip of the ear till the beginning of the forehead.
Dr Mari is a member of the three-member board, including medical officers Dr Anirban Mahto and Dr VDP Singh of Sadar Hospital, which conducted the post-mortem on June 22. However, according to reports, the board had reserved its final opinion on the post-mortem, and would confirm the cause of death later.
The post-mortem report states that the injuries were caused by the impact of a “blunt object with force”. Apart from the head injury, the report points to external injuries “on the right leg” and “multiple green-coloured bruises at the back”. The report also mentions a “nose discharge”, which the doctors say was “due to vomiting”.
According to the CCTV footage recorded in the hospital, Ansari can be seen limping as he is brought in. He was later taken to the district court, which remanded him in judicial custody. That evening, he was brought back to the hospital.
On the evening of June 21, Ansari complained of nausea, vomiting and chest pain. The jail doctor was on leave, and the doctor who treated him at the hospital rushed to the jail to administer medicines. “This should have led to the alarm being raised,” said Dr Mari, according to reports in The Indian Express.
Sadar Hospital Civil Surgeon AN Dey said that on the morning of June 22, he was informed by jail authorities that Ansari had complained of dizziness, then washed his face after returning from the toilet. Then he fell unconscious. That was when the police rushed him back to the Sadar Hospital and later to the Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur. Both the hospitals declared him dead.
When the police officers arrested Tabrez on June 18, they recorded a “confession statement” from the 22-year-old — but it had nothing on the assault which was recorded by the mob on their phones. Even the FIR doesn’t mention the assault and it is not mentioned in the initial complaint filed against Ansari by Kamal Mahto of Ghatkidih for allegedly stealing a motorcycle.
Ansari’s uncle Maqsood Alam said he had met his nephew in the police station’s lock-up and found that he was extremely weak and could hardly talk. “I cannot believe that he never said anything to police about the beating,” said Maqsood Alam.
On Monday, police arrested 11 residents of Ghatkidih village, where the attack took place, and suspended two police personnel. Mahto is also now among those arrested by police for his alleged role in the lynching.
Tabrez, who works as a welder in Pune, had just returned to his home in Saraikela-Kharsawan district, less than two months ago for his wedding and Eid. Tabrez and his wife were scheduled to return to Pune towards the end of this month.
For Tabrez’s family, his death brings back memories of his father Maqsur Alam’s mysterious death in 2005. Tabrez's friend Lukman Ansari said that Alam had gone to a forest area with his Hindu friends, and then, there was no news of him for two days. Two days after he disappeared, his body was found in the forest. Lukman said the police had registered a case against four friends of Alam, but six months after the incident, all of them were also found dead in the same forest.
Tabrez's uncle Mohammad Sadar Alam claimed that Maqsur Alam's death was a murder, but the police were not able to make any headway and thus, the case was closed.
His father had died when he was only 10 years old and his sister only 8 and his mother had died when he only three. Subsequently, his father Maqsur Alam chose to remarry. Alam married a Hindu woman who converted to Islam.
Tabrez, after his father's death, had to take up the responsibility of being the family's breadwinner.
Tabrez’s family alleges that the police ignored a complaint of mob violence on 17 June and reached the spot only the next day, until when the mob kept thrashing him. The family accused the police of putting pressure on hospitals to fabricate Tabrez's fitness report, certifying him as fit even though he was badly beaten up.
Family members and social activists object to the allegation of Tabrez being a thief. “He has been accused of stealing a bike, in 2017, at least 7 people have been lynched in the neighbouring areas of Jamshedpur on the pretext of them being bachcha chor (children thieves), but these accusations are yet to be proved. This is a trend in Jharkhand that in every such incident police simply believes the allegations of culprits of the victim being thieves, or criminal and without verification follow the allegations made by culprits,” pointed out Aurangzeb, a social activist, according to a report on NewsClick.
Lynching cases in Jharkhand
In this BJP-ruled state, Tabrez Ansari’s lynching is the 11th case of hate crime in 2019. Till now, 4 people have been killed and 22 people injured in incidents of mob violence.
According to Hate Crime Watch, a website run by FactChecker.in, there were 14 incidents of hate crime in Jharkhand from 2016 to 2019. In most of these cases the perpetrators are Hindus and the victims, Muslims and Adivasis.