SRINAGAR: Social activist and lawyer Talib Hussain, who played a key role in exposing the suspected culprits behind the gang-rape and murder of Kathua child, has suffered a fracture in skull after he was allegedly assaulted in police custody, his friends and family said.

Hussain, who relentlessly campaigned for justice for the eight-year-old victim during the initial days when attempts were made to cover up the case in January this year, suffered injuries in his head after he was allegedly assaulted inside police lockup in Samba district on Monday.

Lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, who has been providing legal assistance to the Kathua child’s family, said Hussain’s aunt had gone to meet him at Samba police station on Monday afternoon. After the meeting was over, she heard cries of Hussain emanating from inside the lockup.

“When she went back inside the police station, she saw two men beating Talib black and blue. She raised a hue and cry and the cops posted at the police station, instead of rescuing Talib, joined their colleagues in continuing the brazen assault on him,” she said.

According to Rajawat, Hussain’s aunt told him that he had suffered injuries, including on the head and was taken to a hospital for treatment. “He has suffered trauma in his head but his condition otherwise is fine. We are seeking a report on the issue from the station house officer,” a senior police officer said.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising tweeted that Hussain was tortured in police custody. “Talib Hussain – who was arrested last week – has been tortured in Samba police station while on police remand, skull broken, rushed to hospital in Samba, he is a key witness in the Kathua gangrape-murder case. This is unacceptable in a democracy,” the senior advocate tweeted.

Hussain, who was assaulted by members of suspected Hindu rightwing groups in April this year also for spearheading a campaign that led to the arrest of suspected culprits in the horrifying case, was arrested last week after his sister-in-law accused him of raping her.

Police had also registered a case of domestic violence against him on the complaint of his wife but the court directed the police not to act against him pending evidence. Family and friends of Hussain suspect he is being deliberately targeted for raising his voice against the accused who have been arrested in the Kathua case.

“He has become a victim of murky politics played by different groups over the brutal gang-rape and murder of the Kathua child. He started the campaign demanding justice for her and he is now paying the price for it,” Rajawat said.