Ex Judges Must Probe UP Police Atrocities: Women Fact-Finding Team

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Woman Fact Finding Team addresses presser at the Press Club of India

They said the UP police has been refusing to file FIRs and threatening  people with retaliatory  action on those filing complaints including the targeting of hundreds of known persons and several thousand unnamed persons, including the all-pervasive threat of arrests and detentions

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily 

NEW DELHI – After visiting Uttar Pradesh, a fact-finding team of prominent women activists and organizations on Friday strongly demanded the constitution of a team of retired judges to investigate cases of police atrocities and excesses committed during the anti-CAA protests in the state.

Woman activists demanded an immediate end to arrests and detentions of Muslim youths and a stop to the reign of terror prevailing in the region.

A five-member team from Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) conducted a fact-finding visit in four districts of Western Uttar Pradesh – -Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Bijnor– on February 1 and 2 to document the situation 40 days after the police brutalities on December 18, 19h and 20 last in light of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Sharing the findings of the visit at a press conference here, WSS functionary Mamata Dash said the team met the people who lost their family members to police firing and also those who were arrested and detained in the days following the incidents.  Coming down heavily on the UP cops, she said police claimed that the protesters killed the protesters but how was this possible?

She provided graphic details about police excesses, particularly villages, and added that those who were out on bail have been harassed by the police.

“In search of a man called Sajid, on the night of December 19, several police personnel entered Mamour village near Kairana in Shamli district and  forcibly barged into homes by breaking open the main gate, broke household items, asked men to remove skullcaps and women to reveal faces (“topi utaaro, chehra dikhao”), beat the young men, arrested seven people, including father and brother of Sajid, and charged them under sections 151 of the IPC.”

She further noted that many days after the arrests, the Police added the charge of Section 153 IPC.

“On the same night, between 1 and 3 am in Goguan village, they came searching for Manawa, Guerin and Sara; all three in the wholesale business of medicines. Homes of those picked up were raided; and jewelry and motorcycle taken away by the police from Gufran’s home.

In both these villages the police have returned several times for raid, as also to interrogate and harass the family and, in the case of Sajid, threatened to kill him if the family doesn’t cooperate.”

“In Taprana village, Naved, in mid 30s, was picked up late at night, taken to the police station and electric shocks were administered on his head, neck and legs alongside beatings while being interrogated.

In Dehsani Islampur village, the head of the madrasa, Maulvi Mohammad Saddam was arrested at the police station where he went looking for his friends and brothers who were not reachable. Mohammad Rizwan was picked up in the intervening night before the 19th and beaten at the police station with batons and leather planks. A student, Mohammad Fuqran, was picked up and kept in jail for an extended period of time for asking the police to explain why he was being detained.”

Activist Mamata Dash said in total, 34 people were arrested between the 18th and 19th December and all charges were filed while each of them detained were simply made to sign certain papers and none of them was produced before the magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest.

The other members of the fact-finding team Anuradha Banerji (Saheli), Vidhya, Shradha T K Lama and Pyoli Swatija also spoke to the media.

They observed that on the three days in question, a pattern of police action appeared on record and noted that in the name of preventing protests, the police was “armed and prepared to kill”.

“The course of gradual escalation of force was evident and immediate shots to the head and chest was preferred. Muslim youths  were specifically targeted. Unofficial orders were given to the hospitals to delay or deny immediate medical care to the injured. Post mortems were delayed and across the region none of the bodies was allowed to be taken back home to be buried.”

They pointed out that the post mortem reports were released only after the Allahabad High Court order and they  contain glaring inconsistencies.

“Police actions did not appear to correspond to the threat of violence and the police appear to have aggravated and escalated the tensions in several regions. Destruction of CCTV cameras and breaking of glass windows, clearly from the outside, indicate pre-planning and the presence of non-police personnel alongside the state forces.”

They said the police has been refusing to file FIRs and threatening  people with retaliatory  action on those filing complaints including the targeting of hundreds of known persons and several thousand unnamed persons, including the all-pervasive threat of arrests and detentions. This has created a climate of fear that is visible and debilitating trust.

Unprecedented   police excesses have shaken the faith of Muslim community in the system, they pointed out.

“The killings of largely poor Muslim youths, looting of well-off households in Muslim majority areas and the targeted harassment of identified community leaders, including heads of madrasas and maulvis, have shaken the Muslim community, and robbed the sense of security of women and children in the area.”

The notices sent in the name of further interrogation and the scope for claiming compensation for damaged property havefurther eroded the trust of the people in the police and administration, they added.

The activists team also brought the spotlight on the role of police “mitr” who were not to be seen during the police atrocities.

“Most chillingly, the use of armed civil clothed men euphemistically called police mitr has created a sense of terror among the people in the region. Such state sponsored vigilante groups add to the impunity of the state and the police, and ensured perpetuation violence and terror”.

On the occasion, Advocate Riyasat Ali also shed light on the ongoing legal struggles of the victims.  Ali is one of the lawyers representing those affected by the police brutalities.

The fact-finding team made several demands including:

  1. End the reign of terror prevailing in the region
  2. Immediate stop to arrests and detentions of Muslim youth in Uttar Pradesh.
  3. Release of all persons arbitrarily detained in the name of Anti-CAA protests and cancellation of the unnamed list of people the police has.
  4. Withdrawal of false cases filed against Muslim youths.
  5. Registration of FIRs in all cases of deaths and detentions.

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