The police almost re-enacted the infamous cold-blooded Hashimpura-Maliana massacre of May 22, 1987
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
MEERUT — A fortnight since the police firing on the anti-CAA and NRC protesters that killed six persons here, the victims’ families are still struggling to get a copy of the post mortem report of their dear ones, which they require to register FIRs against the guilty cops. Notably, all the victims of the police firing were from poor families.
The families alleged that leaders of the BSP, SP and other secular parties have let them down in their hour of need. Yet, these families remain resolute about taking the matter forward and seek justice for them and punishment to the guilty.
It was on December 20, 2019 that Meerut — the sixth largest city in Uttar Pradesh — erupted against the controversial citizenship law. The police almost re-enacted the infamous cold-blooded Hashimpura-Maliana massacre of May 22, 1987. In the old incident, a group of 19 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) had rounded up 42 Muslim youths from the Hashimpura mohalla (locality), taken them to the outskirts of the city, shot them in cold blood and dumped their bodies in a nearby irrigation canal.
This time, the difference was the police did not round up people or put them in the row before shooting them. They were all young, 20 to 36 years old, and were shot in the upper-waist of the body with intent to kill.
It is said that after people from the nearby Rajinder Gate area came and burned the police check post on December 20 that the police began cracking down on the protesters. Cops went inside various Muslim neighbourhoods, on a shooting-spree. This led to the death of six persons (five of them on the spot and the sixth in a Delhi government hospital on December 24).
Among those killed, one each died at the Gulzar-e-Ibrahim Mohalla, Jaliwali Gali, and Ghantewali Gali, two in Ahmednagar (9 and 10 no Gali). Those who died at Gulzar-e-Ibrahim, Jaliwali Gali and Ghantewali Gali were not part of the protests and simply onlookers.
Speaking with Caravan Daily, the families of the victims testified that it was a clear-cut “targeted killing” as most of them killed in the police firing were not at the protest spot. Young Mohammad Aleem, 24, was shot in the head while he was making rotis at a hotel. The family has a video of Aleem lying dead on the spot with critical injuries. Aleem was the youngest among the four brothers and married. His elder brother, Mohammad Salahuddin, explained the horrific details of Aleem’s killing and the problems they faced in getting his body for burial.
MUSLIM LEADERS LOOKED THE OTHER WAY
“We still did not get the post mortem report and the police refused to take our FIRs and is intimidating us,” he said, adding, the victims’ families were bitter about the lack of support to them from the local Muslim political leaders. Not a single leader came forward to help these harried families in their hour of extreme grief.
Despite all the odds and poverty, Salahuddin is determined to get justice for the family and for his dead brother. “Initially, we all were frightened and in a state of shock, but we have by now gathered enough courage and will fight for justice for those who were murdered by the police in a cold-blooded manner,” he said.
Another victim, 20-year-old Mohammad Asif, was shot in the chest. His father Idul Hasan told Caravan Daily: “They (police) killed my son in a cruel manner when he was returning home after keeping his e-rickshaw at the Hapur Garage. “What crime did my son commit? He was the bread-earner to the family,” Idul Hasan said. He said neither any representative from the government nor any political leader from the SP and BSP came to his house to console him.
Seventy-year old Mohammad Munshi, whose only son Mohammad Zahir (45) was killed by the police after chasing him in the street, also came down heavily on the political leaders’ “insensitive” attitude to the families of the dead. Not a single politician considered it necessary to visit the victims’ homes and give them some soothing words or a bit of courage, he said.
The families of other victims also spoke in the same vein. They said Rafiq Ansari, MLA had visited their locality just to mark his presence.
When asked about filing the FIRs, the families told Caravan Daily that they have sent their Tahreer (compliant) through the district magistrate to the Director General of Police (DGP), the additional director general of police, the SSP and the SHO etc, as the police had refused to register their FIRs. A team of local lawyers is now helping them in this.
YOGI ORDERED KILLINGS
Advocate Sartaj Chaudhri, who is also president of the western Uttar Pradesh lawyers welfare association, told Caravan Daily that the killings in UP took place under orders from Chief Minister Yogi. “There are less chances of the victims getting justice in UP, and there is the need for filing a PIL in the Supreme Court to directing the UP police to register FIRs,” he said.
“For getting justice, like in the Hashimpur and Maliana cases, this case should be transferred to Delhi,” he said.
Another lawyer Riysat Ali noted that all the victims were from poor background. Their families needed financial help to fight the cases. Riysat Ali is part of a team of 11 lawyers. He lamented the local leaders’ attitude and silence over the happenings in the city.