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Bulandshahr Violence: Who’s Accountable for 16 Days of Trauma we Faced, ask ‘Framed’ Muslim Boys

The four Muslim boys arrested for alleged cow slaughter have got SIT’s clean chit, but where is the prime accused in the killing of Siyana’s police inspector?
bulandshahr violence

Sarfuddin with his family.

When Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath changed the course of the Bulandshahr violence from mob killing to alleged cow slaughter, the state police swung into action and picked up a few Muslim boys. Now, after 16 days, four of these ‘wrongly framed’ boys have got a clean chit from the investigators, but their poor families, though relieved, are left with another problem – repaying loans that they took to pay legal fees and facing isolation in their villages due to fear.

The four boys were arrested in connection with alleged cow slaughter that was said to be the cause behind the Right-wing violence in Bulandshahr which led to the killing of a police officer and a local resident on December 3. After finding no evidence, the boys have been given a clean chit and walked out of prison after spending 16 days behind bars in Bulandshahr district jail. 

Also Read | Was Bulandshahr Violence 'Premeditated'?

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe violence has said that these four men were "innocent and have had nothing to do with cow slaughter".

Ironically, the boys were arrested on the basis of an FIR lodged by the district Bajrang Dal convenor, Yogesh Raj, who is the prime accused in the killing of the police officer and a youth, and is still absconding.

Now, the question arises: what about the gross violence of human rights? Who will be held accountable for the trauma that the boys and their families faced in the past 16 days? Who will compensate for the monetary losses that the families suffered?

Newsclick spoke to two of the four boys after their release on December 20 evening.

‘How Can Police Pick us up Without Any Proof?’

"Solah din jail me rehne ke baad, ab main azad hun. Achha laga subah akhbar me ye dekh kar ki hum gunhgaar nahi hain; humne koi gau kashi nahi ki lekin jo image kharab hua uska kya? Aise kaise police Musalmanon ko utha leti hai bina ki saboot ke (After staying for 16 days in jail, I am free now. I felt good reading the newspaper in the morning that we are not culprits; that we did not slaughter cows; but what about my image which has been ruined? How can the police pick up Muslims without any proof?)," said Sarfuddin, who was arrested on December 5. 

Sarfuddin, a cloth trader in Siyana, related his ordeal in a choking voice. "From November 30 to December 3, I was in Bulandshahr. I was looking after the parking lot during the Bulandshahr Ijtema (congregation), which was held on December 1-3. I recorded the video with my brother and neighbours and showed it to the police. I kept on saying that I wasn’t even present during the killings, but the police did not pay heed. Anyone can clearly see me during the last day of Ijtema. Police used say that we have been wrongly arrested but they did not help us," he said.

Asked why he had been 'framed' in the connection with cow slaughter, Sarfuddin said, "Yogesh Raj and I are from the same village -- Naya Bans. I am the manager of Madina mosque in my village. My arguments with Yogesh started a few months ago, when he came with few Right-wing people to the mosque and told us not to use the loudspeaker. The loudspeaker was finally turned off, but I was on their radar due to being very active and vocal. After the Bulandshahr violence, Yogesh gave my name in the FIR, but justice has been delivered.”

Mohd Husain, brother of Sarfuddin, said: "I am relaxed that the police acknowledged that my brother is innocent, but I am in debt after borrowing Rs 32,000 from friends and neighbours to pay for legal fees, extortion to police and frequent visits to the jail, court and the police station. I have two adult daughters. During all this, I asked my relatives to take care of them for few days, but everyone left us in the lurch. Nobody was, in fact, talking to us due to fear, we were helpless."

‘I Will Shift to Mumbai, Forever’

Asif (24), who hails from Aurangabad town in Bulandshahr district, shared his pain of spending 15 days in jail. He told Newsclick, "When the incident took place, I was in Bulandshahr Ijtema with my elder brother, Aaas Mohammad. I am road-side watch vendor in Bhendi Bazaar, Mumbai. I came home with my two kids and wife to be part of the Ijtema. On December 1, around 9 a.m, we left our home for Bulandshahr and returned on December 3 at 11 p.m. The police jumped our boundary wall on the intervening night of December 4-5 and arrested me. When my brother intervened, they said they needed to interrogate me. But, no interrogation happened, and I was sent to the jail for something that I never did. 


Asif with his family.

Asif, who is really upset with incident, said that very soon he will leave his town forever and will shift to Mumbai as he now felt “unsafe” in his hometown, Aurangabad. He said, "When I was in jail for 15 days, I do not know how my wife ran the house and took care of my children. No one helped us during that bad phase.” 

When asked about his days in jail, Asif refused to say anything except that a junior-level jailor told them that they had been "wrongly framed". “Police aise hi kisi ko bhi pakad kar jail me daal deti hai (Police arrest innocent people and throw them in jail). How will I get back my reputation,” asked Asif. 

Aas Mohammad, Asif’s brother, who is vendor, told Newsclick, "First they (police) kept my brother in Aurangabad lockup, after half an hour, he was sent to Siyana police station, and the very next day to Bulandshahr district jail. We were not told about his crime but he was roaming from jail to jail without any crime. I think we were targeted due to our Muslim identity. We are in debt of Rs 17,000.”

Newsclick approached Human Rights lawyer Abubakr Sabbaq, who deals with such cases. He said, "In every such case, there is political pressure. For example, recently a few Muslims were booked in connection with the Kanpur violence where a SDM was killed. The apex court found several lapses in the police investigation, including several discrepancies in forensic examination and post-mortem reports. So, generally, the administration puts heavy charges in a simple case and even try to drag the case unnecessarily." 

After these four men --  Sarfuddin, Sajid, Asif and Banne -- have been prima-facie found “innocent”, the investigation into the Bulandshahr violence raises many questions, as these four were arrested on the basis of Yogesh Raj’s FIR. Raj has claimed that seven persons had slaughtered cows. However, Raj, a Bajrang Dal leader, is the key accused in the killing of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, and is still absconding. Sixteen days have passed, and the UP police still has no answers.

Also Read | Bulandshahr Violence: CM's Statements Damaging Police Investigations

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