The death of Altaf in a police station in Kasganj in Uttar Pradesh has created a storm. While the police claim that the 22-year-old Muslim man hanged himself from a tap in the washroom just two feet above the ground using the drawstring of jacket hood, his family and supporters noted that the police version of events is hard to believe.

The opposition Samajwadi Party described the death as more evidence of rights violations by Uttar Pradesh’s “thoko [trigger-happy] police”.

The Supreme Court has described custodial deaths as “one of the worst crimes in a civilised society governed by rule of law”. Despite this, India sees a high number of custodial deaths. In 2019, approximately five people died in custody every day, according to a report by the National Campaign Against Torture.

As per a 2020 report by the same organisation, Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of deaths in police custody of all states.

What has happened?

Renewed attention has been focused on the phenomenon after Altaf died in police custody on Tuesday. The police had taken him in to be questioned in relation to the abduction of a minor Hindu girl. The police claim that during questioning, Altaf went to the washroom and hanged himself.

Initially, his family had alleged that he had been killed and demanded an inquiry by…

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