Family members of the two Aligarh encounter victims, Mustaqueem (22) and Naushad (17), who were shot dead on September 20 by the Uttar Pradesh police, are living in a tent in Atrauli’s Bhenspada village after their landlord threw them out, saying he does not have “any place for criminals' families.” Both the families had been staying together in one room.
The two boys were killed in an encounter near Machhua canal at Harduaganj, Aligarh, inside an abandoned government building. The incident had triggered an uproar across the country in reaction to the UP police inviting the media for live coverage of the encounter.
The two families, who have lost their breadwinners, have four women, four minor children, the widow of Mustaqueem who is 20 years old, and the 75-year-old mother of one of the deceased. The women have been complaining of facing eve-teasing and lewd comments from villagers and drunk people who pass the tent everyday. They said the Aligarh police had also confiscated all their documents, including Aadhaar cards.
Speaking with Newsclick, Shaheen, Naushad’s mother, said, "I have two daughters who are adults and are fearful of their safety and security. We are being shifted to a slaughterhouse which is not in use, as per the order of Atrauli Tehsil in Sarai Noor Gadhi. That place is no better than this tent, as there is no toilet, no doors. What crime have we committed that no one is willing to help or hear us?”
As the winter sets in, the family is feeling even more helpless. Indicating some kind of pressure on their landlord, Shaheen said, "While abusing us our landlord, Haji Imran, threw our utensils and food on the road. One Thursday, he informed us that 'bade sahab aa rahe hain, ghar khali karo jitna jaldi ho sake (senior officials are coming to this place, so vacate as soon as possible). When we vacated the room, he told the officials that we did so of our own accord. Our lives are being played around by both the police and the landlord. We do not have winter clothes, this season is going to be very tough for us."
After encounter of the two youth, their families are living a life of refugees. They do not want to leave the village as they are attached to the place. "All the people are not bad. Only our landlord harasses us. Some people are really nice souls and share our sorrows," Shaeen added.
Heena, Mustaqueem’s widow, who got married last year, told Newsclick, "We have been forced to vacate our rented room. Since Mustaqeem and Naushad were killed in the encounter, we were literally kept under house arrest, as no one was allowed to meet us. We have been facing mental trauma on each passing day. Can you imagine staying in a tent in the winters? Without committing any crime, we are living like criminals."
When asked about the police’s claim that all their documents are fake, Heena said, "We made our Aadhaar cards and other documents from Chharra and voted last year during the chairman’s elections. If it was fake, how we were allowed to cast our votes? We also a bank account, but the police also took away everything, including our ATM cards. When police raided our house, they did not find anything except utensils and some food. If my husband was criminal, why was working as a labourer, and what is illegal in the stuff that police has found during the raid?" Heena said,choking with despair.
She broke down while describing how their lives had turned for the worst after the encounter. "It's been a month and a half since the encounter, but the police has not return our documents. We have nothing to defend ourselves. When we ask for our documents, we are told that those will be returned after the probe ends. We have become refugees in our own country. We do not have an inch of land or anything to eat. Our neighbours give us food. Let’s see till when they feed us."
Newsclick also approached Aligarh SSP Ajay Sahni, who claimed that the Aadhaar cards as well as other papers of both families were fake. We will hand those over once the probe ends, he added.
“We are investigating this matter and we have came to know that they are not Indians, probably Bangladeshi immigrants. They have made their documents illegally and we will lodge an FIR in this matter soon,” Sahni said.
Faizul Hasan, former Aligarh Muslim University Students Union president, who had termed the encounter as ‘fake’, told Newsclick, "We are planning to shift them in Aligarh so that we can help them. Living in Atrauli (25 km away from Aligarh) is quite dangerous. We are also appealing to people for contributions to help us bring them to Aligarh.”