Plea seeks court-monitored probe into custodial death of Delhi youth

Notice issued to Delhi police over death of Faizan during February riots

The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Delhi Police on a petition filed by a 61-year-old widowed mother seeking constitution of a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the alleged custodial death of her son Faizan during the riots in northeast Delhi earlier this year.

Faizan, 23, was last seen in a viral video with four other Muslim men being surrounded by policemen and forced to sing the national anthem on February 24 this year.

In her petition, Ms Kismatun alleged that “the police men kicked the five Muslim men with their boots, beat them and prodded them with their lathis and taunted them saying, ‘yeh loh azaadi’ (here take freedom), and forced them to sing the national anthem while they were lying down, helpless and in a grievously wounded condition”.

The plea alleged that Faizan was in the “control and custody of the policemen from the time he was wrongfully confined and assaulted on February 24, till he was finally released in a precarious health condition on February 25 from Jyoti Nagar Police Station around 11 p.m.

Faizan succumbed to his injuries the next day at LNJP Hospital here.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Ms. Kismatun, said an injured and wounded Faizan was kept in illegal detention inside Jyoti Nagar Police Station from the evening of February 24 till almost midnight on February 25, and all this while he was denied access to critical medical care.

“The MLC from GJB Hospital dated February 24 records that Faizan was in need of specialized care, but the police took Faizan to Jyoti Nagar Police Station. It was only when Faizan’s condition turned precarious and it appeared that he may not survive due to the injuries, that he was released from the police station,” the plea said.

“The mere release from the police station prior to his death would not absolve the policemen of having committed murder in custody, and the Petitioner is seeking justice for the same,” Ms. Grover said.

While Faizan’s murder case was registered at the Bhajanpura Police Station on February 28, the investigation was later transferred to the Crime Branch of Delhi Police.

“However, with the passage of nine months, it is now clear that the investigation conducted by the Crime Branch is a sham, designed at shielding the guilty men in uniform, rather than investigating the crime,” the plea said.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait has directed the police to submit a status report on the progress of the investigation in the case before the next date of hearing on February 1, 2021.

In August this year, Amnesty International India in its report on the northeast Delhi riots had highlighted the death of Faizan. The NGO had said that Faizan was allegedly detained by the police for close to 36 hours without any charge and he was handed over to his mother after his condition deteriorated.

Later, Delhi police in a statement said, “As per the investigation, Faizan along with others were caught in a riotous situation and were rounded up at the spot by the police personnel on duty”.

“The police personnel seen in the video assaulting the young boys and asking them to sing national anthem are being identified and legal action will be taken against them,” Delhi police said.

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