The death of Hussainabba, a cattle trader, has rocked Udupi district with disturbing details emerging of an attempted cover-up by the police working with Bajrang Dal activists.
An internal enquiry into Hussainabba’s death has found that three police officials at Hiriadka police station colluded with Bajrang Dal activists to frame the brutal assault on the victim as a heart attack.
The enquiry led to the arrests of 11 suspects which include three policemen – Sub-inspector DN Kumar, Head Constable Mohan Kotwal and police jeep driver Gopal.
The police have also arrested local Bajrang Dal activists Suresh Mendon, Ratan, Chetan Acharya, Prasad Kondady, Umesh Shetty, Shailesh Shetty and Ganesh.
The policemen have been suspended from service and all 11 accused have been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days by the Udupi District Court.
The police has also arrested Jaya (37), who was travelling with Hussainabba and escaped from the scene of the crime, in connection with the incident.
Udupi SP Laxman Nimbargi confirmed that the interrogation of the Bajrang Dal activists revealed the details of the incident that occurred in the early hours of May 30. One of the suspects told the Hiriadka police that at around 1 am, a pick-up truck was illegally transporting cattle and was passing through the police station's jurisdictional limits.
Around 4 am, police officials along with Bajrang Dal activists Suresh Mendon, Umesh Shetty and Ratan, intercepted the vehicle near Perdoor. The perpetrators assaulted Hussainabba , damaged the vehicle and handed him over to the police.
"The police officials took Hussainabba to custody, but on reaching station, they found him dead in the backseat. The policemen, who were accompanied by the suspects, ferried the body to about a kilometre away and, later during the day, registered a case of unnatural death," he said.
The policemen initially claimed that Hussainabba died of a heart attack; however, after being confronted with the statements of those arrested, the accused policemen admitted that they were acting accomplice to the alleged crime.
The SP also confirmed that the cattle was not stolen but stopped short of ruling out that the transportation was illegal.
The findings of the internal enquiry brought some relief to the victim's family, who had maintained all along that there was something foul in the death of Husainabba. The police took up the probe acting on the complaint of Mohammed Ismail, Hussainabba’s younger brother.
Shekunhi, the brother-in-law of the victim, said that Hussainabba was a well-known cattle trader and had a license for his trade from the village panchayat. "The external marks on Hussainabba's body made it very evident that it was not the case of heart-attack. He was very old to outrun if he was being really pursued," he said.
He also alleged that two years ago, Hussainabba was stopped by Bajrang Dal activists and forced to drink cow urine.
The police are awaiting the post-mortem report to confirm the actual cause of death. Meanwhile, right-wing activists belonging to the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are organising a protest in front of the District Commissioner's office in Manipal on Wednesday against the arrests made in the case.
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