Widespread anger has erupted among Muslim groups in Mangaluru over allegations that Ahmed Qureshi, arrested for the murder of Prakash Poojary, was subjected to custodial violence that left him with damaged kidneys.
The United Muslim Front has launched a campaign for Qureshi’s cause. The Front, which had protested outside the Mangaluru Police Commissioner’s office on April 4 alleging police atrocities against Qureshi, will now organise a ‘Mangaluru Chalo’ campaign on May 2 at Nehru Maidain in the city.
Former mayor of Mangaluru and Convener of the UMF, K Ashraf, said that the convention will demand action against the City Crime Branch (CCB) police who allegedly damaged Qureshi’s kidney by assaulting him during an interrogation.
Prakash Poojary was a Bajrang Dal activist who was hacked to death in October 2015 by a group of assailants in Moodabidri. On March 21, Qureshi, a resident of Katipalla in Mangaluru district, was arrested on March 21 by Central Crime Branch personnel in the Suratkal Police station limits, and produced before the magistrate on March 28.
Qureshi had then complained about an injury on his arm and pain in his kidneys, and was then admitted to the Government Wenlock Hospital on the direction of the magistrate.
Qureshi’s parents and other activists had then alleged that he had been tortured by the police during his time in police custody.
Speaking at the protest on April 4, Qureshi’s parents said, “The police tortured him mercilessly in confinement. He was admitted to the district Wenlock Hospital when he developed a complication. The doctors have said that one of his kidneys is not functional. This is how brutally the Central Crime Branch officers treated our son.”
However, the police claim that Qureshi’s kidney damage is not due to violence but was a pre-existing condition. Commissioner Chandra Sekhar had earlier told The News Minute that when Qureshi was produced before the magistrate on March 28, he had stated that he had sustained the injuries in a road accident.
Doctors at the Wenlock Hospital had issued a statement that said that certain personal habits of Qureshi had damaged his kidney.
Based on these inputs, former Chief Minister Kumaraswamy had also told reporters on April 4 that Qureshi’s kidney damage had occurred prior to his arrest.
However, Qureshi’s brother Nishad refuted these claims. “My brother was not suffering from any such ailment. It’s nothing new on the part of the police to coerce the people to agree to their version of the story,” he alleged.
Following the protests, Kumaraswamy has also taken a different line on the case. He met with Qureshi’s parents, and has stated that he will raise the case in the next Assembly session.
More than 25,000 people from across Karnataka are expected to participate in the protest on May 2, and over 60 organisations have offered their support to the cause.