The Bengal government on Tuesday suspended two police personnel and “demobilised” a home guard who were on duty at Amta police station in Howrah on Friday night when Anis Khan, a former Aliah University student, was found dead at his home.
“The suspension means nothing to us. The accused should be arrested and produced before the court,” Anis’s father Salam Khan told reporters, adding that he would cooperate only with a CBI probe.
The steps against three personnel (home guards cannot be suspended as they are not on the police rolls and hence told to stay off work) followed the first recommendation of a special investigation team (SIT) probing the death of Anis.
The state home department, helmed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, issued the suspension orders within hours of the three-member team, headed by CID chief Gyanwant Singh, having started functioning.
The decision made it clear that the government wanted to send out a message that it was keen on finding the truth behind Anis’s death but police sources said not much progress had been made in the probe till Tuesday evening.
The investigators are not yet sure whether those who had visited Anis’s house — his father had said the young man was hurled to his death from the rooftop by four visitors in police uniform — belong to the police or not, the sources said on Tuesday night.
The police did not say whether the suspended trio — Nirmal Das, an assistant sub-inspector; Jitendra Hembram, a constable; and Kashinath Bera, a home guard — were among the four who had allegedly turned up at Anis’s home.
“On Friday, the three were on night duty. It appears they did not respond to calls from Anis’s father when he informed them that his son was lying dead,” said a police officer.
Anis’s family members said that despite repeated calls to the police station, the police had turned up around 9am on Saturday, after a gap of nearly six hours since the father made the last call.
The officer said: “Gathering circumstantial evidence is a time-taking process, particularly in a place where tempers are still running high.”
A section of officers admitted that a series of lapses on the part of the police was coming in the way of a faster probe. Some of the mistakes identified by them are:
⚫ A police team reached the Amta house the next morning and did not seal the spot from where samples could have been collected for definite clues.
⚫ No attempt was made to trace Anis’s mobile phone for several hours. Anis was believed to be speaking on the phone just before he died.
Officials from the SIT visited Anis’s home again on Tuesday night to serve a notice on the family to hand over the phone. The family refused to accept the notice. “We will hand over the phone to the CBI or the court…. We don’t have any faith in the police,” said Salam, Anis’s father.
⚫ Possible sketches of the four visitors to the house were not drawn up even after Anis’s father said he could identify them.
The anger at the police was palpable in the family. On Tuesday, Salam refused to spend much time talking to two IPS officers who had gone to Amta to meet him on behalf of the SIT.
Some neighbours said Salam spoke for a few minutes before leaving the chair, citing illness.