A team of officers from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) along with their counterparts from the Howrah district administration and the health department were forced to return from Amta early on Saturday after deceased student leader Anis Khan’s family and some residents refused to let the teams exhume the body for a second post-mortem.
Family members threatened to move the Supreme Court if they were forced to agree to the second post-mortem, which Calcutta High Court had ordered on Thursday.
Trouble began when hundreds of men and women took the winding road leading to Anis's house in the wee hours of Saturday and stopped the police team and officials including the block development officer (BDO) and the block medical officer of health (BMOH) as they tried to make way to the site where the body was buried.
Villagers demanded an official explanation as to why the team had turned up in the wee hours of Saturday when Anis's family had said they would allow exhumation on Monday and not before. Attempts to strike conversation with the crowd by the BDO and senior police officers proved futile as villagers continued to resist any move to inch closer to the burial spot.
The officials made a U-turn after an hour-and-a-half.
The failure to exhume the body early could come in the way of clearly identifying the nature of injury marks on the deceased's body during post-mortem, a senior officer of the SIT said.
The post-mortem had been scheduled at the SSKM Hospital in Calcutta.
Anis’s father Salem Khan said he feared the police had come to steal the body and wondered how he could have faith on the functioning of the SIT when he had set Monday as the date for the process.
“I had sought time because of my ailments. Why did the police have to come in such early hours of the day?” Salem said.
Officers said they chose the time only to avoid crowding at the site because the sight of a body being exhumed can be disturbing to witnesses. Salem had been informed on Friday about the proposed visit of the team, they said.
Sabir Khan, Anis’s brother, later said that the family would move the apex court if any attempt was made to mount pressure on them to consent to the second post-mortem.
The state police could not hide its frustration after abandoning the process of exhumation on Saturday morning.
“On the direction of the Hon'ble High Court, today members of SIT accompanied by a magistrate went to exhume the body of Anis Khan for holding further PM (post mortem), which was fiercely prevented in violation of the order of the apex court of WB,” West Bengal Police tweeted.
Anis, 27, an alumnus of Aliah University, was found dead near his home last week. His family alleged that he was thrown off the top of his home by the police.