Mohammed Anas | Caravan Daily
Satpal Antil, Superintendent of Police (SP), Muzaffarnagar city, comes across as a gentle officer. He’s sweet-tongued and media-savvy. But, he is also the most feared figure in the city these days. The police force under his command has unleashed unspeakable brutalities on Muslims in the guise of neutralizing the violent protesters on December 20. Despite a pile of pictorial and video evidence to prove the police brutalities, he denies that the police even touched any innocent after the anti-CAA protests. He claims that he has been shot by armed agitators in the foot, but locals allege that he has shot himself to justify the ruthless police action.
The Caravan Daily met him for a tete-a-tete and sought answers to all questions that he had been evading since the police crackdown.
Question: Why did the police take action against anti-CAA protesters on December 20?
Ans: On December 20, people assembled after Friday prayers at Meenakshi Chowk. It was in defiance of Section 144 of CrPC imposed on the city. People were forewarned about it a day before. People had tolerated this gathering so long as it was peaceful. But as it turned unruly and violent, the police had to resort to strict action to maintain law and order.
Q: Locals say that the police action was unprovoked and that it was brutal. Several videos and pictures are testimony to this.
Ans: If such evidence is available, people should come forward and file cases. The police acted as per requirements of the situation. We are protectors of the law and we discharge our duty.
Q: There are evidences to show some BJP functionaries were involved in acts of vandalism. They were seen taking part in arson in police presence. Did you take action against these elements too? Muslim locals allege that it was the trigger to the December 20 violence.
Ans: I will repeat that if people have evidence, they must resort to legal recourse. We have taken action against all vandals, without discrimination on any ground.
Q: A local clothes vendor Noor Mohammed was killed due to bullet injuries near Meenakshi Chowk. Muslims allege he was killed in police firing. The police haven’t even issued a copy of the FIR to his family. Neither has his post-mortem report been released yet. Why?
Ans: According to a report filed by his family, he was killed during the violent December 20 agitation by as-yet-unidentified persons. We suspect that it was mobsters who fired at him and he died due to injuries in this firing. We are conducting an investigation. Due process is being followed.
Q: It’s been a week since that incident. How much investigation have you done so far?
Ans: We are probing the case.
Q: How many persons have you arrested so far?
Ans- We have arrested a total of 73 persons and have identified more than 150 violent protesters. They too will be arrested soon.
Q: Among the arrested are said to be as young as an 11-year-old. Some of them are students from the Anjuman Traqqi e Sadat Bahra, an institution for under-privileged Shia children. Why did you arrest underage students?
Ans: If some of these students were arrested, they were released later after they were identified. Similarly, many other people who are nabbed on suspicion were freed after it was established they were not rioters. We have not arrested innocent people. Those in judicial custody are offenders.
Q: You say that Anjuman students were released after identification but most of these kids were brutally beaten. Even their teacher, Maulana Asad Hussaini, was thrashed so much that he has bruises all over his body. He is bedridden since then. One of the students has reportedly even suffered serious renal complications. The whole institution has been badly vandalised by the police. What do you say on this?
Ans: This institution is in close vicinity of the Menakshi Chowk, the location of the December 20 protests. Many violent protesters, when chased by police, took shelter in this school. When the police entered, they opened fire on the police. In retaliation, the police took action and perhaps beaten many.
Q: Residents of Muslim localities like Khalapar allege that the police barged into their homes late at night on December 20 and not only vandalised houses, but even looted valuables. Cops even took away cash kept for marriages in some households. Videos of such houses and tales of woes of households have been telecast by many news channels. Have you taken any action against the culprits?
Ans: There can’t be a Muzaffarnagar police which will resort to such barbarism. If people have evidence to prove their claims, they must come forward and file complaints.
Q: Even a mosque has been vandalized. CCTV footage shows policemen banging on the mosque door and damaging windowpanes and CCTV cameras. Aren’t these proofs for police to act against culprits?
Ans: The police will act if it receives complaints. Thankfully, the situation in the city is moving in the direction of normalcy and we will soon see complete peace here.
This correspondent asked SP Antil whether he needed evidence; and if so, this will be provided to him to help in police investigations into incidents of police excesses. But he insisted that the people should file complaints and then use such evidence in court.