New Delhi: With new evidence coming to light on the violence in Uttar Pradesh during Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in December, two fresh complaints were filed on Friday before the district magistrate, naming 28 policemen and some unidentified cops for allegedly shooting to death five persons in Meerut district.
In one complaint filed by Salaudin, brother of deceased Mohammad Aleem, it has been alleged that the police had opened fire on persons protesting against CAA on December 20, 2019, near City Hospital in Meerut that killed his brother, one among five others who died on that day in the district.
According to Salaudin’s complaint, Aleem died in police firing on the spot, and that there are eye-witnesses who saw Aleem being shot near the hospital by policemen in uniform.
Aleem was about 25 years old and was working as a cook in Raes Hotel in Tehsil Kotwari, Meerut. Salaudin’s complaint, based on eye-witness accounts, also alleged that the police picked up his brother’s dead body, put in a police van and drove away.
The complainant claimed to have video evidence of the police shooting at the unarmed protestors near City Hospital and the police lifting Aleem’s dead body from the road and putting it in the police van. "This establishes that Aleem was shot dead by the police and they had knowledge of this fact and the police conspired to cover up the true facts and destroy and tamper with evidence related to Aleem’s death," he alleged in the complaint.
NewsClick has seen and accessed the video mentioned above.
The second complaint pertains to 20-year-old Asif, an e-rickshaw driver, who also died allegedly due to bullet injuries in Meerut on that day. The complaint was filed by Asif's father, Idul. According to the complaint, Asif was killed barely 50 meters near City Hospital.
"On December 20, Asif went to drive his e-rickshaw and after seeing the terrible condition of the city, was returning to home. The protest against CAA was on the way of his house. He left his e-rickshaw and started moving towards his home and was shot in the chest," the complaint reads.
According to Idul, a bullet penetrated Asif's body which pierced in his chest, which proves that it was shot from a very close range.
Police Misleading Case?
Ali Zaidi, a lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court, who is providing legal assistance to these five families, said he had accessed a couple of “sensational” videos as one of the evidences on the alleged police firing on peaceful protesters.
Zaidi said the victims’ families had earlier filed three separate complaints naming several policemen for alleged firing before DIG, SPP and DM. "Getting no response from any of the authorities on these three complaints, we moved to court under 156(3) to lodge a first information report (FIR) against the cops. Now, on Friday, we filed two more fresh complaints with video and photo as evidence against policemen. In one video, one can easily spot the brutality of police firing on the protestors," Zaidi told Newsclick. He added that the District Magistrate (DM) had received the complaint.
Accusing the police of “misleading” the case, the lawyer said: "Aleem was killed in police gunshot injuries but Meerut SSP wrote a letter to DM misleading him that Aleem was neither part of anti-CAA protest nor had he died at the protest site, and that someone killed him and threw his body in the hospital. On that basis, the DM ordered a magisterial inquiry. Now we have submitted a video as evidence with the complaint busting the SSP’s lies of SSP. The video shows a few police officials taking Aleem’s body in Circle Officer’s car (CO) which shows the real face of the administration and their unfair and unbiased enquiry."
Zaidi alleged that the district authority was not only saving the policemen who opened fire on the protestors but was also misleading the case. "If the SSP, who is a senior official in district, destroys the investigation based on a bogus fact by writing a bogus letter to the DM, which contains misleading information, how is it possible that their own investigation will reveal the truth?"
What Happened in Meerut on December 20
Meerut, a district in Western Uttar Pradesh that is barely 80 km from national capital, witnessed one of the most brutal police crackdowns on December 20 during the anti-CAA protests.
Meerut had reported a total of five deaths in the police crackdown — the second highest number of casualties in Uttar Pradesh after Firozabad district, with seven people killed on December 20 crackdown on the anti-CAA protesters.
Besides Aleem and Asif, the other three died in Meerut on day of violence are Zaheer Ahmed, Mohammad Aasif and Mohsin. NewsClick met the families of five of those killed and spoke to them December 26.
They alleged that all five persons were hit by police bullets above their waist — three among them were found with bullet shots on their chests and two on their foreheads. All these five who were killed were labourers, so poor that they could not think about protesting, said the families.
In January, in Nehtaur -- a small town, barely 7 km from the Bijnor district headquarter, family of one Mohammad Suleman who died during anti-CAA protest in the town filed complained against six police officials for killing.
So far, this only such case wherein police have accepted opening firing on the victim in "self-defence" during the protests.
Besides Suleman, one more person, Anas, also died due to alleged bullet injures. NewsClick had reported from Nehtaur that the family members of both the youths alleged that when they rushed to the government hospital in Nehtaur, not a single doctor was available in hospital. Anas died on the way to Bijnor, while Suleman was declared dead soon after he was shot.
On December 19 and 20, thousands of people joined a protest against CAA-CAA- National Register of Citizens (NRC)- National Population Register (NPR) in several districts of Uttar Pradesh. As protests turned violent at a few places, at least 23 people were killed—most of them with bullet injuries—in Meerut, Kanpur, Bijnor, Lucknow, Firozabad and other places. Most of them were daily wagers.
NewsClick spoke to Meerut SSP Ajay Sahni to know his account about the two new complaints. He disconnected the call saying that let's meet in Meerut and discuss this. "I am in a meeting and talk to SP city who is handling this case.
Reporter made several calls to SP city who was unavailable. The PRO of the SP said, "Sahab meeting me hain, baad me call kijiye (Sir is in a meeting, call after some time."
His version will be included once received.