Indian under-trial deaths is an international affair now: Al-Jazeera

Viquar Ahmed alias Ali Khan and four others were shot and killed in a “fake encounter” on April 7 2015 on their way to a court in Hyderabad from Warangal Central Prison.

Mohammed Ahmed, the father of a slain Viquar Ahmed cried foul over the entire incident and termed the killing of his son and his four associates as “police murder” as there was many holes in the police authenticity of the encounter.

As per Al-Jazeera reports, between 2007 and 2012, nearly 12,000 people died while in prison or police custody in India, with 3,532 reported cases of custodial torture.

Viqaruddin was first detained in 2010, on charges of forming a terror operative called Tehreek-e-Galba-e-Islami (TGI) that targeted police officers.

But Viqar’s father strongly denied the allegations. “Policemen were arresting boys for the Makkah Masjid bombing case, and when my son found out his name was being mentioned in the police station, he tried to leave Hyderabad,” Mohammed, Viqar’s father told Al Jazeera.

Viqar on trial at the Sessions court had often complained about being ill-treated while on their way to prison from the court.

“My son said that three people will grab him while the rest of the policemen will hit him,” Ahmed recalled. “He was killed just days before we were expecting the court to pronounce him innocent.”

Fearing the danger to his son’s life, Ahmed in 2012 submitted a complaint to the chief justice of the state high court, but in response received only a message that the complaint had been forwarded to the director-general of prisons.

Gulam Rabbani, Ahmed’s lawyer said that it was shocking that Viqar was murdered just one day after updating the judge – verbally as well as in writing – which he believed his life was at risk.

“The judge should have immediately taken matters into his hand and directed an investigation into the killing, as Viqar was killed only one day after expressing his fear over his life!” Rabbani exclaimed.

The investigation team is only exploratory the attack on the police that Viqar and his associates carried out, and not the murder of the men while in police custody.

“The boys were handcuffed, and some had as many has 14 to 18 bullets inside their bodies, while not one policeman was injured. All this points to the fact that this was nothing but a fake encounter,” Rabbani asserted.

Academician and rights activist Manish Sethi seconded Rabbani’s claims.

“It’s a clear instance of cold-blooded, extra-judicial execution in custody. The arms on the dead bodies of these five men – with their hands handcuffed to the seats of the police vehicle – appear to be clearly planted in order to ‘dress’ this up,” Sethi told Al Jazeera.

Sethi, also author of the book Kafkaland: Prejudice, Law and Counterterrorism in India, believes that custodial deaths are under-reported in India.

“Not every instance of custodial death will get reported to the National Human Rights Commission, where these figures are collated. Deaths in the custody of army or paramilitary forces – especially from conflict regions – do not find [a] place here,” said Sethi, who is also the president of Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association.

Ahmed believes his son was targeted for being a member of a minority group. To Sethi, this is no surprise.

“It’s a sociological fact that the full might of the law – and its lawlessness – is felt most acutely by the most vulnerable sections,” she claimed.

“Even the Bombay High Court has observed that minorities are especially targeted for custodial violence.”