Shabana, mother of 22-year-old Mustakeem who was killed by police in ‘encounter’ in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh on 20 September 2018. (Photo credit- Gajendra Yadav-The Indian Express)

Caravan News

LUCKNOW — Eminent human rights group Rihai Manch has demanded a high-level probe into the 20th September police ‘encounter’ in which two alleged criminals were shot dead on the camera of ‘invited’ media in Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh. Citing the videos of the shootout and the x-ray reports of the deceased, Manch has raised 11 questions over the authenticity of the ‘real encounter’.

Hours after the Police shot dead Naushad, 17, and Mustakeem, 22 in probably country’s first ‘encounter-on-camera’ on Thursday, families of the two had addressed a press conference in Aligarh and made strong charges against the police. Contrary to the police version that the duo opened fire at a patrolling police team Thursday morning but were killed in retaliatory fire from the police, the families told mediapersons that both Naushad and Mustakeem were picked up by the police from their home on Sunday, four days before the shooting.

Prima facie, Rihai Manch said, the Aligarh incident looks like an “extension of the state-sponsored encounter politics.” It appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of the videos of the shootout and order a probe.

After the shootout, Aligarh City SP Atul Kumar Srivastava had said: “Mustakeem and Naushad stole a motorbike and two mobile phones Wednesday in Kwarsi police station area. Police were looking for them. Around 6 am on Thursday, they were heading towards Harduaganj when they were intercepted. The two started firing, triggering crossfire. They rode off to an abandoned building near Machhwa canal not far from Harduaganj and the exchange of fire continued. The gunfire lasted one-and-half hours. They were injured and taken to the district hospital where they died.”

The Police also said that two were accused of murdering six people, including two temple priests in the last couple of months in the state.

The rights group said that the two were picked on 16th September, the police announced reward on their head on 18th September and they were killed on 20thSeptember.

The families had addressed a press conference in the evening on 20th September.

Rafikan, Mustakeem’s grandmother, was quoted by The Indian Express as saying: “They (Police) came in around 2.30 pm Sunday and picked up both, along with Mustakeem’s brother Salman, who was arrested Tuesday, and my son Naseem, who is mentally ill.”

Naushad’s mother Shaheen, a daily wage labourer, said: “We will file a case against the police for the injustice.” “My boy was picked up from home by the police on Sunday morning. He was murdered in cold blood,” she said.

In its letter to Uttar Pradesh DGP, Rihai Manch has raised some points that, it said, require probe:

  • Public Relations Officer, SSP, Aligarh called media persons at 6:36 AM. They were again called at 6:59 AM and they were taken to the site of the ‘encounter’.
  • Several questions arise after seeing videos and photos of the spot. SP City along with three other policemen is firing but five other policemen standing very near are busy in talks with each other. It looks like a police exercise or a photo-op.
  • Is there any provision to call media during serious operation like encounter? Were media asked to shoot only the actions of the policemen?
  • Police said the two criminals got wounded in police firing and while being taken to hospital they could tell their name and address. But x-ray report shows that two bullets had entered and exited from their chests. Bullets had ripped apart their hearts and lungs. In this condition, it does not look possible that the victims would give any statement. What looks certain is that they were brought to hospital dead.
  • When they were hiding as the police said, how could it be possible that both got two bullets each and only in the chests and the bullets exited out? Were they shot from very close range?
  • The families said that the two were picked by police on 16th September and the police had taken their Aadhaar cards also. Police again reached their homes to question family members and to tell that the two fled police custody.
  • Police took thumb impressions of family members on papers, asked them to immediately bury the bodies and issued notice to those who raised questions and demanded an independent probe.

In the letter written by Rihai Manch’s president Adv. Mohammad Shoaib, the rights group has demanded the DGP to order a probe.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to National Human Rights Commission and Chief Justice of India.