West Bengal: Family of deceased student leader seek answers, say ‘no trust in police’
The family of 28-year-old student leader Anis Khan, who died on Friday night after he was allegedly pushed from the second floor of his house in the village of Howrah by a group of men dressed in police uniforms, have demanded an inquest of the CBI, accusing the police of being involved.
Claiming Anis’ ‘murder’ left many ‘unanswered questions’, her family accused local police of being negligent in their investigation and said they took no action after Anis got complained of threatening his life last May.
Recalling the Friday night events that led to Anis’ death, her father Salem Khan told the Indian Express: “Anis returned home around 12.30pm from a nearby jalsa (religious gathering). He went out on the patio with his phone and headphones. Around 1:10 a.m., four unidentified men knocked on our door and asked for Anis. I peeked in from my room and told them Anis wasn’t home as I didn’t know who they were. But, when they said they were from the Bagnan police station and would like to speak to Anis regarding an old case filed against him, I opened the door.
According to Salem, one of the men was wearing a police uniform, while the others were wearing civic volunteer attire.
“One of them stood guard next to him, while the others went up. Suddenly, I heard a dull noise. When I looked outside, I saw Anis lying in a pool of blood. By the time I went to his body, the four had gone down a narrow lane near our house. They had pushed him through an open window that was being built,” Salem said.
Anis was taken to a nursing home in Uluberia around 2am where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
“Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., we called the Amta police station twice, and were told someone would contact us in an hour,” Saleem said, adding that the police were arrived at their home after seven o’clock – around 9 a.m. – even though the police station is located about 9 km from their house in the village of Sarada Dakhin Para.
“When the police came to our house, the villagers did not allow them to enter and staged a protest,” Salem added. The police managed to calm the demonstrators and were finally able to enter the house.
According to the family, by the team that the police reached, the crime scene was already contaminated by crowds of people thronging the scene. A neighbor said they tried to cover the place where Anis fell with bricks and plastic bags.
“Even the team of forensic experts examined the crime scene and took samples on Sunday noon, approximately 34 hours after the incident. At that time, the crime scene was already contaminated because members of the family, neighbors and others had visited the site. There is a good chance that all the evidence was destroyed. The police did not even set up barricades to protect the crime scene,” the family said. .
“The police investigation of the crime scene was sloppy and unprofessional to say the least. They didn’t care and tried to close the case,” said the teenage niece of ‘Anis, who slept in the same house Friday night.
“How can we trust a police investigation if they themselves are involved. Is this a joke?” said Anis’ older brother, Sabir Khan.
According to the Anis’ father, he heard one of the four “attackers” say on the telephone as they left: “Sir, kaaj hoye geche (Sir, the job is done)”. “Who were they? Why were they wearing a police uniform? Who was addressed as ‘sir’? Those questions have to be answered,” Salem said.
According to the family, Anis had previously received death threats. On May 22, 2021, Anis had submitted a letter to Amta police station after a gram panchayat and his men threatened him with dire consequences for organizing a blood donation camp in Uluberia. “… A group of men stormed my house and threatened to kill me… My family and I are in a state of great insecurity and fear that they could kill me any day “, we read in the letter.
The police, however, denied any negligence or delay on his part.
“A murder case has been registered and our investigation is ongoing… No police team went to his home for an investigation on Saturday evening,” said Debabrata Chakraborty, the officer in charge of the police station of the city. ‘Amta.
The FIR for murder registered against unknown persons on a complaint filed by Anis’ father also includes articles 201 of the CPI (causing the disappearance of evidence) and 34 (acts performed by several people in pursuit of a common intention).
Howrah (Rural) Police Superintendent Soumya Roy, who was reportedly summoned by the DGP for a briefing on the incident, said: “I can strongly say that whatever is necessary for the investigation will be done.
Refuting the accusation that the police took hours to reach the crime scene, Roy said: ‘It’s not that the police haven’t responded. After receiving the information, the police left for the village between 5 and 6 am… There is tension in the neighborhood, and the police are trying to do their job.
“Allegations of police negligence will also be investigated. The whole incident will be investigated by a senior official. Anis’ family can count on the police for an impartial investigation,” Roy told the media on Sunday.
The SP also said Anis was dealing with ongoing cases. “It is true that there were several cases against Anis in the police stations of Amta and Bagnan,” Roy said, declining to divulge details of the cases.
About the threatening letter sent by Anis, the SP said he was not aware of it.
Anis had recently enrolled in a journalism course at Kalyani University. He completed a diploma course in Information and Communication Networks from Aliah University in 2014-2015. He rose to prominence during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in 2019 and was actively involved in student politics. He was also known to frequently organize initiatives aimed at social welfare.
“We knew him personally. He was our comrade. He raised his voice against anarchy. Does this mean that anyone like Anis who speaks out against injustice and protest will be killed? This is cold-blooded murder,” said Pratikul Rehman, state chairman of the Student Federation of India (SFI).
According to his friends, Anis was involved in leftist student outfits while at Aliah University and had recently joined the ISF (Indian Secular Front) of Abbas Siddique, an influential cleric from Furfura Sharif in the district of Hooghly.