Families allege bullets of U.P. police killed their loved ones, police claim they died in firing by rioters
“We are waiting for the wheels of justice to turn,” said Mohd. Salahuddin, the brother of Aleem who died during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in Meerut on December 20, 2019.
The 24-year-old was one of the six persons who were killed when the protests turned violent. While the Uttar Pradesh police claim they died in firing by rioters, the kin of the victims allege that they were killed by bullets fired by the police. “All that we have got in the last one year are dates. We have not been heard,” said Salahuddin, who suffers from polio in one leg. “We have been told that the Delhi riots that happened after the protests have become the priority of courts and lawyers,” he said.
Salahuddin, a resident of Ahmed Nagar area in Meerut, works in the catering business which has been badly hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The monetary support that came from social activists and political parties went to the wife of Aleem. She left home after the iddat period and now I am struggling to make ends meet. My father also got paralysed in the last one year,” he said.
‘Ready with evidence’
Ali Zaidi, a Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer, said from the highest to the local court they were in queue for dates. “We have complete evidence rejecting the bogus investigation that claims the victims died of gunshots of rioters,” claimed Mr. Zaidi, referring to the chargesheet filed by the police in the Allahabad High Court. “They have arrested four to five people who have criminal record to weave a fictitious story that they fired at different places during the protest. The victims were pelting stones and sustained bullet injuries in the melee that ensued,” alleged Mr. Zaidi.
Subhash Chandra Prajapati, Additional District Magistrate (Finance), who heads the inquiry into the death of Aleem, said he would file the report in a week. “We have received evidence from police and the Chief Medical Officer but nobody from the victim’s family turned up,” he said, adding the inquiry was delayed because of COVID-19 and workload.
In Bijnor, Afzal Ansari was mourning the death of his nephew, Suleman, who was one of the two persons killed in the protest in Nehtaur town on December 20 last year. “We remembered him by distributing woollens to the poor. He wanted to serve society as a District Magistrate. This is the least we could do,” said Mr. Ansari, a lawyer.
“It was a targeted killing but nobody is listening. Can’t we even protest? The then Superintendent of Police had admitted that the police fired in self-defence but now they say the two died in firing by rioters. They have many ways to silence us. When I actively pursued the case, I was named in an FIR in Nagina for rioting,” he alleged. The case, he rued, was pending in the court but “it seems the system wants us to forget our loss”.