Phulwari Sharif (Patna): Recovery of the decomposed body of 18-yearold Aamir Hanzla, 10 days after he went missing following the attack and firing on a peaceful protest march against the new citizenship law or CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) during opposition RJD’s shutdown, has raised many eyebrows over the failure of Bihar Police and administration to trace him. What is more disturbing is that the victim’s family members have questioned the role of a local police officer (DSP Sanjay Pandey) and a Bihar Minister, Shayam Razak, who happens to be the local MLA of the ruling JD-U, to save the accused and hush up the matter.
The killing of Aamir on December 21, allegedly by a group of youths belonging to Hindu Right-wing, Bajrang Dal, in Phulwari Sharif located on the outskirts of Patna, is the first reported casualty in Bihar during the ongoing protests against CAA-NRC. There are reports of several protestors as well as some policemen being injured during the protest so far across the state.
“My son was killed for being a Muslim in Sangat Gali (a bylane) near Tam Tam Padao, hardly 250 metres from the Block and DSP offices, by Bajrang Dal activists and supporters. His crime was that he joined the protest march like hundreds of others against CAA-NRC during opposition RJD’s shutdown on December 21,” Aamir’s grief-stricken father, Sohail Ahmad, told NewsClick here, adding “there was no other enmity or dispute behind the incident”.
Muslim samajh ke maara hai aur koi dusra baat nahi tha. Gali se jaa raha tha Musalman hai yehi jaan ke maar diya (He ws killed because he was a Muslim and was present in the bylane), alleged Ahmad, in his late 50s, surrounded by grieving relatives in a room on the first floor of his rented house in lane number 7 of Harun Nagar, Sector 3.
The distraught father expressed deep dismay over the fact that none from the ruling party (Janata Dal -United) or opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had come to console the family, except CPI(ML) leaders and activists, including Kanchan Bala. ”No one from JD-U or RJD has visited us, even to promise justice to us”, he added.
Ahmed alleged that one of the arrested accused, Deepak Kumar, had admitted in his confession to the police that he, along with others, first captured Aamir and then killed him by stabbing him after hitting his head with a bat. They later threw his body in a small pond close to old building of block office, he alleged.
“I have seen three deep stab injuries on his body when it was fished out from the pond in my presence on Tuesday morning and during the post-mortem at the government-run Patna Medical College Hospital amid tight security. My son was brutally murdered by them,” he said.
Till now police have arrested six accused, but the main accused, Vinod, is still absconding. Raids are being conducted to arrest him, Phulwari Sharif police station officer in-charge said. The accused arrested in the case are known bootleggers and are involved in crimes in the past and were jailed too,” he said.
After his son went missing, Aamir’s father had filed a written complaint in the local police station on December 21 itself, which was turned into an FIR on December 22.”After Aamir did not return home till late night ,hours after violence during protest march, I lodged a missing complaint and requested police to search him,” he said.
Deeply pained and devastated two days after he buried his young son, Ahmed, with his long white beard and head covered with traditional gamcha, said what hurt him and his family most was that two local Hindi dailies reported about his missing son, alleging that he was not mentally sound on the basis of a statement given by the Phulwari Sharif Deputy Suprintendent of Police, Sanjay Pandey.
“The DSP’s statement to local Hindi dailies was far from truth and baseless. My son was intelligent, smart and active. He was working in a small workshop that manufactures bags after he dropped out of studies after passing Class 10th.His recent photo is a reflection of how well he was and was not at all suffering from any mental problem. By terming my son as “mansik pidit”, the police officer tried to give a new twist to the case and to divert the search operation in different direction. It was something not expected from the police officer ”, Ahmed said.
NewsClick repeatedly tried to reach out to the DSP for his reaction but he did not pick up his phone.
At the same time, Ahmed and his family praised senior DSP of Special Task Force, Ramakant, for arresting the accused. Ramakant was deputed here to control the situation following the alleged violence during RJD’s shutdown that had led to communal tension. He was formerly posted in Phulwari Sharif.
According to police sources, till date, 60 people have been arrested in Phulwari Sharif in connection with the attack on the peaceful protest march followed by clashes between two groups in which six people received gunshot injuries, two sustained stab injuries and nearly a dozen were injured in stone and brick pelting.
Ahmed, who had worked as private secretary to the chairman of the Bihar Madrasa Board, accused local MLA and Bihar Minister, Shayam Razak, of lobbying for the accused and putting pressure on the police to hush up the matter. ”Razak never misses an opportunity to project himself as a secular leader and a champion of secularism, but the painful reality is that he had lobbied for the accused and tried his level best to save them from arrest,” Ahmed sai.said.
Aamir’s father said they expected Razak to stand with them in the time of crisis “as he is our local MLA for over two decades. But he has not bothered to even call us so far.”
He recalls how he was running around from morning to late night for 10 days after Aamir did not return home and how his family members spent sleepless nights till their worst fears proved right.
Aamir’s cousin Manzar Nomani and Mohd Shahid said a day after he went missing, they had collected information and requested the local police to raid Sangat Gali and take action against supporters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bajrang Dal, offering some “solid evidence” that they had got.
“We strongly feel that police deliberately tried to suppress the killing of Aamir on December 21 and 22 despite we giving them information that he was killed and even giving them some names of the accused. ”The police could have recovered his body within two days because it got information that body was thrown in a water body close to the Block office . We had repeatedly informed them that his body was probably thrown near block office on the basis of local sources”, Shahid claimed.
Nomani said the police had spotted Aamir carrying a national flag (tiranga) in his hand walking in the protest march against CAA-NRC in a CCTV camera footage obtained from a private shop.
However, the big question is that if Aamir was killed in Sangat Gali, how his body was taken to block office, less than half a km away, through a busy NH 98 when the entire locality had turned into a police?
A police officer, on condition of anonymity, told NewsClick that the accused used a small thela (cart) for taking body after killing Aamir soon after he was attacked and captured by them. ”There is a conspiracy side to it as well, because without support from others, the accused could not have managed to transport the body from Sangat Gali to a small pond where they threw it”.
Sensing trouble in the areas soon after Aamir’s body was recovered from a pond on Tuesday morning, additional security forces were deployed in every nook and corner and police patrolling was increased on December 31, 2019.
Initially, people were confused and failed to understand the presence of heavy security forces -- from roads to residential localities -- but soon realised that something was wrong, because merely 11 days ago, communal tension had gripped Phulwari Sharif.
Ahmed claimed that another boy sustained stab injuries in an alleged attack by Bajrang Dal activists in Sangat Gali when he was passing by following police firing of teargas to disperse protesters. He alleged that local supporters of CAA-NRC, said to be members of a RSS-affiliated organisation, were the ones who pelted stones and fired gunshots.
“This boy was lucky, as he managed to escape from the clutches of Bajrang Dal activists minutes before Aamir was forcibly captured and killed,” Ahmed said, adding that it was “he who informed us that a group of slogan-shouting Bajrang Dal members had attacked four-five other protestors in Sangat Gali when they were running away to escape indiscriminate firing on the protest march”.
Ahmed said he wanted justice, not revenge. ”We want justice, we don’t want revenge or anything that spurs violence or threatens peace. What I have suffered personally is impossible to express. I will never want anyone to experience the same,” he told NewsClick.
He admitted that soon after Aamir’s body was recovered and news, there was anger in the area, but he appealed for peace at any cost .”When some people told me that they will take revenge, I stopped them from doing anything”.
“I have appealed for peace after the recovery of my son's body, who was killed by supporters of Hindutva politics. Hum nahi chahte hai ke hungama ho ( In don’t want any trouble)”, he added.
Last month RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav had blamed two senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including a Union Minister and an MLC, for attacking and firing on peaceful protests during RJD’s shutdown in Phulwari Sharif. He alleged that a group of local residents near Sangat Gali on the main road (NH 98) in Phulwari Sharif, first pelted stones at protesters.
After police brutalities in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Tejashwi Yadav and Left parties have raised questions on the role of state police during protests against the contentious CAA-NRC. They also cited Bihar police’s crackdown against those protesting against CAA and NRC in Aurangabad town during RJD’s shutdown.
“Police under (chief minister) Nitish Kumar is terrorising Muslims and vandalising public property. The police has even told residents, ‘You want azaadi? Wait, we'll give you azaadi’,”, Tejashwi Yadav had said on December 28.
This is the first time Tejashwi Yadav, former state deputy chief minister, has accused the state police of terrorising Muslims for protesting against CAA-NRC.