By Vimal Bhai*
“Bring my son back”. In a small room, Aalim’s mother was crying. Next to her, Aalim’s brother Salauddin said, “We want justice for everyone with whom something like this has happened.” Municipal councilor Haji Noor Alam added, “The police was not giving the corpse back. We as well as the MLA had assured the police that we would bury the corpse in a small burial ground next to the house of a relative nearby. But they were reluctant.”
Here, both Hindus and Muslims are angry about why innocent persons were being killed. The police was not giving Aalim’s body, fearing people would block the road. Aalim’s father raised both his hands: “Hindus and Muslims are very fond of each other here. I can see that when I go to the market. There is no problem here.”
Aalim’s brother showed a short video in which Aalim is seen making rotis. His physically challenged brother said he could make 400 rotis in an hour! But now the only bread earner has been killed. Running an e-rickshaw for livelihood, Aasif was shot dead on the chest.
Aalim’s father said, no MP has reached up to them, there is no offer of compensation from the government. Like every day, Aasif had gone out to run his e-rickshaw at 10 am. On being shot, he died on the spot. The police called him a terrorist leader.
Mohammad Mohsin, 23, worked as a kabadi, junk seller. He would bring fodder for his animals on the same cart on which he would gather junk. He had gone to bring two sacks of fodder. He too was shot on the chest. He was alive for 40 minutes. But no hospital took him. The City Hospital also refused. The police said ambulance wouldn’t be allowed in.
Mohsin’s brother sought to know the reason from the police. First the SHO asked, “Are you accusing us?”, but then said, “Yes we killed him.” Mohsin too has been called a militant. What will be the future of his children now?
This is what happened with two of those who were killed in Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Nagar and the nearby areas of Meerut. There is information that in all six persons were killed as a result of police firing in Meerut. Unconfirmed sources put the figure at 17. More than 10 were killed. Those who died were buried silently because of the terrible fear of the police.
If anyone is hurt, the police would call him a rioter. No postmortem would be reported. Nobody got any support even in hospitals. People say, the police would threaten those who tried to protest. They wouldn’t be spared, they would be told: they would face prosecution, would rot in jail.
People know: Life must go on even if one eats two loaves in the shadow of fear. No one dares speak here openly about what has happened. Such is the atmosphere of panic that very few dare talk with newspaper reporters. On the streets, you would find bonfire at every nook at night. Young and elderly sit in a group around it. Because, at night the police might come anytime and pick up anyone found alone.
FIRs have been registered in Meerut against 4,000 unknown persons. Around 1,500 people were found squatting at a single police station. About 400 people have been put behind the bars. Names of 150 people involved in so-called riots have been registered in these FIRs. All of them belong to one locality. In a single night, people were identified so quickly. Clearly, the names were randomly taken from the voters’ list.
Noor Mohammad, 30, was a labourer. He was shot in the head. He was quickly buried in Meerut. His pregnant wife couldn’t be part of his funeral. Today she simply seeks justice.
There is a three-storey building right on the street near Meenakshi Chowk in the interior of Muzaffarnagar. Belonging to a relatively affluent family of the area, inside the main gate, one could see a broken car and luggage scattered all over.
Daughters on the first floor were scared. Those who attacked the house looted everything. They took away cash. No FIR has been registered. Government officials haven’t cared to see what has happened.
People of Khalapar area near Meenakshi Chowk said, on the night of December 20, all the CCTV footages of vandalism were destroyed. Police went around from one house to another. The dacoit-like behaviour occurred in about 30 houses in Khalapar area and near Sarvat Gate.
Anything that could be broken was broken. Cash and jewelry were looted. No item, including fridge, TV, or AC, was spared. The police was accompanied by people in plain clothes. They had iron rods, sticks and bars with them. People haven’t even thought of filing an FIR. Who would listen to them?
Even children in the madrasa for orphans were not spared. Kids aged eight and nine were beaten up. All this happened between 2.00 and 2.30 on the night of December 21-22. Some of the children have been released from the prison. The rest of yet to come back. No one dares to defy the way they are being treated.
A 72-year-old owner of a saw machine and his 13-year-old grandson were severely hit in the Sarwat Gate area. Their son is in jail. Two granddaughters were to be married on February 4. They now sit at home with head injury. Their dowry items have been destroyed. Jewelry and cash were robbed.
About 150 people attacked the house. They came twice, at 11:00 pm and then at 6:00 am the next day. Phone calls at night for help were of no help. The son was hit very badly. He was made to sign in the police station in an almost unconscious state. The family members’ main concern is, how to get him back.
Nearly 150 people were kept in a large hall in the Civil Lines police station following the assault. These included children. One of them, on asking for water, was told by a cop, “Open the zip and give him urine.” CCTV footage of this area has also been destroyed. People are unable to leave their home due to fear.
A committee under the chairmanship of the additional district officer has been formed in Muzaffarnagar, in front of whom application for compensation could be filed. But people have bad experiences of 2013. They know what happened to those dared complain. Nobody has any faith in getting justice from the authorities.
MP from Muzaffarnagar is Sanjeev Balyan, leader of the 2013 riots. He is now a minister of state in the Central government. He was very much present at several of the places where these incidents took place. He would be invariably accompanied by a number of his young colleagues and the police.
There is no police investigation. Everything appears to have happened in a planned manner, in accordance with instructions from the top. There have been statements of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath that he would take revenge and teach lesson. There has been a lot of effort to religiousize all of it, but no Hindu-Muslim riots have happened.
The houses of Muslims were looted. They were hit with bullets and beaten up by sticks. There is fear of intimidation all around. This is what we saw in Muzaffarnagar and Meerut during our visit on December 27. It’s a Yogi territory. The so-called yogis have become pioneers of militant Hindutva politics. Yogi appears to have forgotten: He became chief minister by taking the oath of the Constitution and not of the Hindu nation.
*With Aman Ki Pahal and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), one of the 19 persons, including social workers Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Faisal Khan and lawyer Ehtesham, who visited the areas affected by police action in Meerut and Muzaffarnagar on December 27
This is free translation of the original Hindi article forwarded by NAPM to Counterview