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“They Beat Him to Death”: Family Alleges Custodial Murder of Abu Siddique Halder in West Bengal

A 22-year-old man, Abu Siddique Halder, from the Dholahat area of South 24 Parganas, was allegedly beaten to death in police custody in West Bengal. The deceased’s family has raised concerns, alleging their son was murdered. Siddique’s family has approached the Calcutta High Court seeking justice for the beating death of their son.

On Sunday, June 30, gold ornaments were stolen from the house of Abu Siddique’s uncle, Mohsin Halder. He lodged a complaint with the police. On Monday, July 1, Dholahat police picked up Mohsin Halder and his nephew Abu Siddique.

It is alleged that Mohsin was forced to register a complaint of theft against his nephew. After this, Abu Siddique was arrested and repeatedly beaten at the police station. He was produced before the Kakdwip sub-divisional court on July 4 and was granted bail that day. However, he became ill after returning home. He was first taken to Mathurapur Hospital in critical condition, where he was discharged after receiving first aid.

From there, he was taken to Diamond Harbour Hospital, but as there was no solution there, Abu was transferred to Chittaranjan Hospital in Kolkata. However, he was left on the hospital floor due to a lack of available beds. As his condition worsened, he was admitted to a nursing home in Kolkata’s Park Circus area, where he died around 10 pm on Monday, July 8.

“When the youth was brought to the nursing home, he was bleeding from his nose and mouth and had difficulty breathing. His condition could not be controlled even with oxygen. A blood test showed high urea-creatinine levels. Nothing could be done even after two hours of dialysis. People in the house were talking about police harassment,” said a nursing home official.

Tension prevailed as news of Abu Siddique’s death reached his village home, leading to protests in front of the Dholahat police station on Tuesday morning. A local resident said, “The police are the big goons now. We want strict punishment for the guilty policemen.”

The family of the deceased claimed that Abu Siddique died due to beatings in police custody. Taslima Bibi, the mother of the deceased, said, “Police picked up my son on false charges of theft and beat him to death. We want justice. I want the police punished.”

The locals claimed that Abu Siddique was an active member of the ISF (Indian Secular Front) and was killed for political reasons.

Bhangar ISF MLA Nawsad Siddique stated, “I have strongly protested against the encounters in Uttar Pradesh. At least 12 people have been killed in mob lynchings in West Bengal in the last few days. Where the police are supposed to protect the common people, one of our workers was killed by the inhuman beating of the police. We strongly condemn it.”

The victim’s mother, Taslima Bibi, lodged a written complaint with the Superintendent of Police of the Sundarbans Police District.

District Superintendent of Police Dr. Koteswara Rao said that Abu Siddique did not have any health problems when he was produced before the court. The district police have started a departmental inquiry based on the family’s complaint.

The family of the deceased has approached the Calcutta High Court regarding the death of the youth in police custody. Justice Amrita Sinha’s attention was drawn to the High Court on Wednesday, July 10. Permission to file a lawsuit was granted.

Questions have been raised about whether the post-mortem of the deceased was conducted according to rules and whether the post-mortem was videographed. The father of the deceased lodged an FIR against SI Rajdeep Sarkar and the IC on Wednesday.

The Bandi Mukti Committee has condemned the death of the youth in police custody. In a press statement on Wednesday, the organization said, “Due to the long human rights movement and many verdicts of the Supreme Court, public awareness was being created about the killings in the lock-up of the British period. Just then, the Modi government’s three new laws have allowed the police to oppress. Police arrested him on July 1 and produced him in court on July 4. The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS) gives unbridled powers to the police to kill in lock-ups. The new law also allows police custody of an accused for up to 90 days.”

Choton Das, general secretary of the Bandi Mukti Committee, stated, “We demand that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) investigate and punish the guilty. Besides, the family of the deceased should be given financial compensation and a job for one of the family members.”

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