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UP Elections: Two Years After Anti-CAA Riots in Meerut, Families of Victims Await Justice

In Meerut, five people were killed during the anti-CAA riots in December 2019, but the police have not yet registered an FIR even after two years.
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Meerut: “The system has not done anything in the past two years, and I do not think that anything will happen until the court passes an order in our favour.” These are the words of Shah Jahan, 45, the widow of Zaheer.

Zaheer was allegedly killed by the Meerut district police in December 2019 when the anti-CAA violence broke out in the western Uttar Pradesh district, and no first information report (FIR) has yet been filed in this case.

Shah Jahan alleges that her husband was sitting near the house and was shot from point-blank range by a policeman who managed to flee away from the spot soon after the neighbourhood people saw him.

“He was shot from the left side of his temple, and then there was a pool of blood all around his body. He died on the spot,” says Shah Jahan with tears rolling down her cheeks.

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While narrating all this, Shah Jahan went numb for a couple of minutes and then started sobbing inconsolably. She now makes bangles to earn her living and support her brother-in-law’s family, managing to get her only daughter married last December, but the nuptial knot further resulted in a loan of Rs 6 lakh upon the joint family of 9 members.

“It was an intentional killing, seen by everyone in the neighbourhood. They saw the police kill my husband, and they saw the policeman running after that,” she claims, adding, “The only justice that I want for my dead husband is to see the killers suffer like my husband suffered and what my family is suffering.”

“My daughter became an orphan. She did not have her father on her side when her marriage was solemnised. I became a widow. My brother-in-law now has extra liabilities just because the government’s policy, for no fault of ours, killed my husband,” she says.

It may be mentioned that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Uttar Pradesh had in the Allahabad High Court in February 2020 accepted the death of 23 people, 455 policemen injured and arrest of about 850 people who were allegedly found to be involved in the clashes.

AUTHORITIES UNRESPONSIVE

Salahuddin Ansari's brother Alim Ansari, 24, was killed with a bullet that hit his skull. Locals identified him, and since then have alleged that the state police did it.

Alim was a worker at a nearby eatery where he made bread. He was newly married at the time of his death. His widow has returned to her maternal house.

Salahuddin says that the family had received compensation to the tune of Rs 30 lakhs, but the widow of Alim took the money and now the family is struggling for money to fight the legal battle.

The disabled brother has no source of income other than a tiny grocery shop and his wife’s domestic work.

“Now, I do not have any hope left because it has been two years. The government has done nothing to give justice to us ever since my brother was killed. The only hope we now see is the change in government. Still, we are not that hopeful because other parties are also not speaking on our issues,” says Salahuddin, adding that the family has given application to every forum of the Human Rights Commission, but nothing has been done yet.

Riyasat Ali, the counsel representing the families of people killed during the anti-CAA riots, says that the Indian law states that the police should file an FIR and start the enquiry even if no one complains to the police.

“For each of the five killings, we have moved separate applications to the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court (CJM) in the court under sections 156 (3) of the CrPC so that an FIR can be lodged and the court orders a probe. Here the police are in question, and we are sure that the Indian judiciary will do justice to us,” Riyasat said.

Riyasat has been working these cases on a pro-bono basis since all these families come from an impoverished economic background and depend on daily wage incomes for their two square meals.

The district police did not reply to the queries, and the SP was busy with election duties.

Advocate Talha Rashadi, who has represented the anti–CAA cases in Azamgarh, says that the delay in action by the government and providing justice to the families suffering is an example of the process becoming the punishment. “There seem to be some biases in these cases, and all I hope is that the court must order a fair probe in this case,” he says.

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