Anti-CAA Protests: Re-investigation Order Gives a Hope to Victims of Police Brutality

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UP police baton-charge the anti-CAA protesters in Lucknow. — File photo

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Firozabad, ordered fresh probe rejecting the final report in the case of Mohammad Shafiq, who was allegedly killed by the police, thanks to the legal battle facilitated by Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR).

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Amidst protests around the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a new discriminatory citizenship law, the aggressive side of police came to the fore.  The UP Police played the most devious role to crush the democratic movement.

Around 350 FIRs were registered against around 5,000 named and more than 100,000 unknown persons for the protests while thousands of innocent people were illegally arrested and harassed in jails.

Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh is among the areas that saw highest number of deaths during the 2019 protests against the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Of the 23 persons who died during the protests in the state, seven were from Firozabad district including Shafiq, Mukim, Armaan, Rashid, Haroon, Abrar and Nabi Jan.

Apart from allegations of extrajudicial killings of protesters, the UP Police is also accused of arbitrarily registering FIRs in January 2020 against unknown persons under section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) which is a less heinous charge compared to that of murder. It is also alleged that in the aftermath of the agitation, the police conducted the investigation into the killings in a cavalier manner, that too, at a very slow pace.

The police have also been criticised for recording arbitrary statements to benefit the accused while ignoring vital evidences, raising questions on the impartiality and independence of the police. In the end, the investigators filed closure reports concluding that all the dead during the protests were shot by rival protesters and that the accused could not be identified due to the long passage of time.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Firozabad, while rejecting the final report (87/20) filed in the case (817/19) of Mohammad Shafiq (36) s/o Abdul Rashid Qureshi, who was allegedly killed by the police during the anti-CAA agitation. The order has been given to Inspector-in-Charge Rasolpur to re-investigate the matter in the light of facts mentioned in the petition. He has given this order on the Protest application (431/2021) filed against the final report of the police in this matter. The protest application was filed in court by Shafiq’s brother Nisar with the legal help of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR). Earlier, by summoning the investigator and progress report before the court, we have already got increased the charge of section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code in the matter.

In a protest demonstration against the citizenship law in Firozabad, a person named Mohammad Shafiq was shot directly in the head by the police while he was returning home after work on 20 December 2019 despite the fact that he was not even a part of that demonstration.

Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR’s) lawyer, Sagir Khan, who is representing victims in these cases, accused the Uttar Pradesh Police of pressurising the victims’ families and even himself to withdraw the cases against the police. In this regard, they have filed complaints to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) along with higher police officials in connection with the harassing behaviour of the Firozabad police.

He says with the help of APCR, he had filed the petitions of the deceased Shafiq and Armaan, in which order has been issued for re-investigation of Shafiq’s case and soon they are preparing to file the petitions of other deceased as well to ensure them a fair chance of justice.

APCR is continuously providing legal aid to the victims of police repression as well as documenting the violent atrocities committed against them. Last month, we exposed the magnitude and extent of the barbaric crackdown on the democratic protests for equal citizenship and highlighted the arbitrary functioning of the government machinery in Uttar Pradesh, bypassing all constitutional ideals and values, in our report titled “The Struggle for Equal Citizenship in Uttar Pradesh and its Costs: A saga of omnibus FIRs, Loot, Arrests and Harassment of Muslim minority”.

They are hopeful that the courts of law will ensure a fair and independent investigation in all the cases of suppression and oppression of the equal citizenship movement and will do justice to the victims by directing appropriate legal action against all those guilty.

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