Saharanpur Video: ‘No Medical Aid, Beehive in Jail Toilet’. Horror Tales by Victims’ Families on ‘Police Brutality’
Saharanpur/New Delhi: Mohammad Imran, 22, had got engaged on May 10. He was preparing to go back to work in Kerala to return again the next year for his marriage. Little did he know that he would land in jail for an alleged crime that his family claims he was not even remotely associated with.
Imran was picked by the Uttar Pradesh police on June 10 allegedly from Saharanpur’s Kishanpura locality where he had gone along with his three friends to enquire about Delhi-bound buses. He had to board a train from the national capital for the South Indian state on June 11.
He didn’t turn up till the next morning. His distraught family was clueless about his whereabouts when his younger brother was informed by someone that Imran was in the police custody for allegedly taking part in the Friday's protest against the offensive remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by now suspended and expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal.
Protests across Uttar Pradesh, including in Saharanpur, after Friday congregational prayers, had turned violent in some places, with reports of alleged brick-batting and stone-pelting.
Amid allegations of “extra-judicial” police crackdown involving “brutal torture” of some of the accused and confiscation and demolition of their properties, over 300 people have so far been arrested across the state in connection with 13 FIRs (first information reports).
Of these, 86 persons have been arrested in Sahanpur alone where, too, bulldozers also rolled out, partially razing residences of the two accused, Muzammil and Abdul Waqir.
After learning about the arrest of her son, who works as a welder at a workshop in Kerala, Imran’s mother. Rayeesa, 49, ran from one police station to another to find out about the well-being of her son, but to no avail.
“He was detained at the Kotwali Nagar police station, but the officials denied that. While I was urging Kotwal Sahab (the police officer who commands a Kotwali) to let me meet my son if he is locked up in his police station and he kept denying his custody, I saw Imran and others coming out and being made to board a vehicle to be sent to jail. All of them looked brutally tortured and were in pain. While some of them seemed to have broken limbs, others were unable to walk properly because of the merciless beating through the night,” he described the scene at the police station, with her voice choking.
Rayeesa claimed her son had pain in the chest, but was unsuccessfully trying to pretend as if he was fit. “As he walked closer to me, he failed to hide his pain. He held his chest and burst into tears,” the mother broke down while narrating her ordeal to NewsClick.
“My son is innocent; he performed Friday prayers in a mosque in our mohalla (Pakka Bagh), which is at least 3 kilometres away from the stretch between Jama Masjid and Ghanta Ghar where violence had erupted after prayers. He had nothing to do with the agitation. After the namaz (prayer), he was at home when the violence was taking place. He had stepped out with his friend in the evening to enquire about the bus he was supposed take the next morning to reach Delhi from where he had to catch a train for Kerala,” an inconsolable Rayeesa said.
Mohammad Saif was also among them the boys who were picked up by the police allegedly from Kishanpura in connection with the violence. In the viral video of inhuman custodial torture shared by Shalabh Mani Tripathi, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Deoria and close aide of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who shared at on Twitter with the caption “return gift to rioters”, the 25-year-old can be seen in while kurta-pajama (a comfortable outfit Muslims generally wear on Fridays).
Saif’s elder brother, Javed, who makes corrugated boxes, said Saif too had performed the congregational prayer at a local mosque in Saharanpur’s Qutub Sher area, where they reside.
“My brother is a daily wage labourer, he is least bothered about what is happening across the country. He had returned home at around 1:35 p.m after the Friday prayer. He was at home till evening. His friends, Imran and Rahat, had come to meet him after the prayer. They had lunch together. Since Imran had to leave to leave for Kerala, the three friends went out to find out the pick-up point of the bus for Delhi, as the located had temporarily changed in view of the massive road and sewer construction works underway in the city,” he claimed.
NewsClick has accessed CCTV footage that shows the three men driving out of the lane where Saif’s home is located on two different motorbikes. The 41-second video recorded between
The video from 17:09:55 to 17:10:33 on June 10 shows Saif riding a motorbike alone. He was followed by another bike, which has a pillion rider. While Rahat is driving the second bike, according to Javed, Imran can be seen sitting behind him in firozi (light blue) colour kurta, with a black skull cap.(This publication does not vouch for the authenticity of the video.)
Javed said the three friends were untraceable till the wee hours of June 11 till Imran’s family first came to know about their police custody. He reiterated that the trio were picked up by the police on June 10 evening from Kishanpura area.
Identifying her brother Saif in the video, who can be seen being beaten up black and blue in a corner in white attire, his sister, who had just returned after visiting him in the prison, said he had been thrashed so much that he was unable to stand on his feet.
“He was crying and his dress was soaked in blood. He has not even been provided medical care. He was taken to a doctor who took his thumb impression on few papers and returned him without examining and providing him with medicines. He is suffering from severe pain. He and all his co-accused are even being denied water in this heat. They are not even able to use the toilet as the cell where they are lodged in has a beehive,” she alleged.
THE VIDEO AT A GLANCE
In the viral video (on which a probe has been ordered by the police after public outrage), a young man can be seen pleading to the police not to thrash him as he has suffered a hand fracture. But his horrific cries fail to shake the policeman who continued to rain batons on him. The youth’s name is Mohammad Ali, a resident of Saharanpur’s Peer Gali.
Whenever Ali’s mother watches the footage, she breaks down. “Uske haath sooj kar mote mote ho rahe the. Woh bahut zyada ro raha tha aur bol raha (Both of his hands were swollen, with one of them broken). He was crying and asking his mamani (maternal aunt) who had gone to see him in jail to take him along. He did not eat anything for the past three days,” she told NewsClick, alleging that her son had been framed.
Next to Saif in the row is Mohammad Tareef in black shirt, a resident of Khajoortala Hashim Khan Chowk.
Confirming Tareef’s presence in the video, his brother Mohammad Tauheed broke into tears and said: “Bahut buri tarah maar rakha hai, pura ghutna phaad rakha hai sir. Uska pair khoon se latpat hai. Koi dawa nahin de rahe hain (He has been beaten up very badly; his knee is brutally injured. Both of his legs were soaked in blood. He is not being giving any medicine).”
He alleged his brother was picked up by the police when he passing through Baba Cycle at Nehru Market, which is far away from the spot of the violence.
The man in green shirt in the video is Rahat Ali, who resides at Aali Ka Mohalla. He seems the worst victim of the “police brutality”.
AFTER DENIAL, COPS NOW LAUNCH PROBE
When the video started doing the rounds on social media after it was tweeted by a BJP legislator, the Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar had said: “We don’t subscribe to such things. We are investigating it. In case it is found to be true, we will take action against the erring police officials.”
But at the same time, he also cast doubt on the authenticity of the video, saying a “few people in the video are not from the state....”
Despite repeated assurance of an enquiry and action against the guilty police officials, Saharanpur Senior Superintendent of Police, Akash Tomar, instead of following his senior official who had assured a probe, kept denying that the video was from Saharanpur.
“No such incident has happened in Saharanpur. The video, which is circulating on the social media is not from Saharanpur,” he told several journalists, including NewsClick.
His junior, Saharanpur City SP Rajesh Kumar too brazenly denied that any such torture has taken place in Saharanpur. “No such incident has come to our knowledge. Not even any family of the accused has approached us so far. Merely on the basis of a video, you cannot claim that it is from Saharanpur,” he had said.
Surprisingly, the repeated denials came after the fact that all those who are seen being brutally tortured are named in the FIR filed by the police.
When asked to confirmed if those who had been booked by the police are arrested, he refused to give any details.
But when the video was verified by journalists as being located in Saharanpur, following repeated denials by SSP and SPof City Saharanpur, the top cops are now saying that they are investigating the custodial torture and that guilty officials would be punished if the video was found to be true.
The probe will be conducted by SP Kumar himself.
CONDEMNATION BY EX-TOP COPS, JUDGES
Calling for a fair probe, Vikram Singh, former director general of the UP police, said such action cannot at all be justified. “It is a serious matter. If the video is found to be true, the guilty officials must be brought to book,” he said in his brief comment over the video.
Meeran Chadha Borwankar, former director general of the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPRD), said it was indeed very shameful.
“We should not refrain from apology from all of us in uniform,” she said emphasising the need to take cognisance either by the National Human Rights Commission or the Supreme Court if the video is found to be true.
“I agree that men in uniform sometimes go berserk in rural India. We have no business to assaul citizens of this country. I hope that if the video is found to be true, the UP police will not hesitate in taking action and the court will step in,” she said.
Former Supreme Court Judge Madan B Lukur said it seemed as if Uttar Pradesh had no more rule of law left. “Any civilised society cannot tolerate this barbarism at all,” he said, stating that there is a human rights commission in Uttar Pradesh, a high court at Allahabad, the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court in New Delhi, but strangely all these institutions are silent.
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