On Sunday, January 5, a police officer named Kumaraswamy from Bagalkunte police station brought in the body of Salim Khan, a car dealer and rowdy-sheeter to the Saptagiri hospital in the city.
But it was only on Wednesday afternoon that Salim’s brother Malik Khan got a call from Sub Inspector Srinivas at Nandini Layout Police station who asked him to appear at the station. Upon arrival, Malik was informed that a dead body was lodged in the mortuary of Saptagiri Hospital and that it could be his brother Salim’s.
The family has now alleged that Salim and his friend Giri were kept in police custody at Bagalkunte Police Station on Sunday, where they were allegedly tortured. The family says that while Giri has gone missing, two other friends told them that both Salim and Giri were called in by the police on Sunday.
What the family alleges
Malik and Salim’s younger sister Tabassum say that Salim was supposed to go to dinner to their father’s residence in Yeshwanthpur on Sunday night. Salim had allegedly promised to visit at around 6 pm. At around 10.30 am, Salim visited his late friend’s mother Saraswati in Bagalkunte.
Speaking to TNM, Saraswati says that Salim was at her home from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm on Sunday. Salim allegedly received a phone call at around 4.30 pm on Sunday after which he hurried out of her home. “He did not tell me where he was going but he said he had to leave immediately. That was the last we saw him,” Saraswati says.
When Salim did not come home for dinner, Tabassum and Malik called his phone multiple times, but were unable to speak with him. “At around 7 pm, I called him. Someone picked up the call but no one answered. We kept calling him. Someone would always answer but no one spoke. We kept thinking there may have been a problem with his phone,” Tabassum says.
On Tuesday afternoon, Malik went to Salim’s home in Nelamangala and found the house was locked. He then called Sachin and Aadil, friends of Salim and inquired about his whereabouts.
“They told me that Salim left Saraswati’s house to meet Giri,” Aadil says.
Tabassum alleges that Salim and Giri were kept in police custody at Bagalkunte Police Station, where they were allegedly tortured. “Giri and his family members have absconded. No one knows where they are. The police must have intimidated Giri and convinced him to leave town because Salim died,” Tabassum alleges.
“Giri and his family members have absconded. No one knows where they are. The police must have intimidated Giri and convinced him to leave town because Salim died,” Tabassum alleges.
The police’s version
DCP North N Shashikumar says that constable Kumaraswamy, was the first responder to a call recieved at the police control room, which allegedly claimed that an unconscious man was lying outside SLN Bar in Bagalkunte. Kumaraswamy clicked a picture of Salim and circulated it to all police stations in Bengaluru North limits to determine the identity of the man.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Nandini Layout Police Sub Inspector Srinivas called Salim’s brother Malik Khan and asked him to visit the station.
DCP Shashikumar says that SI Srinivas identified Salim as he had worked on an attempted murder case involving Salim eight years ago.
Family questions police version
Malik and Tabassum say that the police officers in the North division knew Salim as there were several cases registered against him in various police stations and any of them could have easily identified him.
“They are doing this to cover it up. Why did they not inform us on Sunday? Why did they wait till Wednesday to tell us? The police knew his name because in the hospital register, his name is written and that he was brought dead. So obviously they are lying,” Tabassum alleges.
TNM obtained a photo of the medical register at Saptagiri Hospital, where Salim’s name is mentioned and the recorded time of death was 8.05 pm on Sunday. It is unclear if the entry was made on Sunday or Wednesday, post identification.
The magistrate inquiry
Tabassum says that while the Bagalkunte Police informed them on Wednesday that Salim had died in an accident, the Yeshwantpur police claimed he died of cardiac arrest. “The hospital said he died because of hanging. All these versions were clashing. We refused to allow an autopsy in Saptagiri Hospital until the magistrate inquiry,” Tabassum says.
The police then shifted Salim’s body to MS Ramaiah Hospital, where an autopsy was scheduled. However, Salim’s family members did not allow it to happen without a magistrate inquiry. Finally, on Friday, Salim’s body was shifted to Victoria Hospital.
The local magistrate arrived at around 12.30 pm. Salim’s sister Tabassum was allowed to go into the autopsy room. Within minutes, Tabassum rushed outside, crying loudly, saying that her brother had wounds on his whole body.
Police deny allegations
However, DCP Shashikumar categorically denied that Salim was tortured in police custody and that the police suspect that one of the co-accused in one of the cases registered against him, could have killed him. “He was found unconscious outside the bar. There are many political and minority organisations who have got involved in the issue after his death and they are making these allegations,” he added.
DCP Shashikumar said that the autopsy report and the magistrate inquiry would reveal the truth and if custodial death was proven, action would be taken against necessary officials. “A CID probe will also be launched,” he said.