UPPER DIR: A person accused of killing his sister-in-law died in police lock-up in the Warhi tehsil of Upper Dir district, died in mysterious circumstances early on Tuesday, with the police and his family disputing the account of his death.
Police officials insist that Muhammad Ali died of severe heroin addiction withdrawal symptoms, while his family accuses the police of having killed him during an interrogation.
Muhammad Ali allegedly shot dead his sister-in-law Shahnaz Bibi three days ago. He was arrested late on Monday evening from Kade Khel Dara, with a pistol in his possession, which police officials say was the murder weapon.
“From the minute he was arrested, he was crying and asking from heroin from the police,” said Warhi Station House Officer Farooq Jan. “How could we violate the law to provide drugs to a man, especially one accused of murder?”
Jan said that Muhammad Ali was not interrogated the night he was arrested and left in the Warhi police station lock-up. During the night, however, Ali’s health deteriorated and he died.
Police officials told The Express Tribune that Ali admitted to having killed his Shahnaz Bibi while they were lodging the report of the incident. “He told us that he shot her because she had ruined the peace in their house by fighting with everybody,” Jan said.
Ali’s family, however, dispute that account and claim that he was killed due to police brutality during his interrogation. “My son was killed by the police,” claimed Nabiullah, Ali’s father.
Nabiullah also rejected the allegation that Ali was a heroin addict, though he did admit that his son used to smoke hashish. “In my entire lifetime, I have never heard of a man die because he had not smoked hashish for four hours.”
Other officials seem to suggest that Nabiullah’s allegations may carry some weight. One police official said: “Ali was captured yesterday and he died of a heart attack during the investigation around 12:45 am in the lock-up.”
Ali’s body was moved to Saidu Medical College in Swat for an autopsy.
“The autopsy report will reveal the truth about Ali’s death,” said Jahangir Khan, chairman of Upper Dir District Public Safety Commission, a citizen’s group. “If the police are found guilty [of torture], we will stage a protest against them and demand an inquiry against those responsible for Ali’s death.”