The Uttar Pradesh Police seem to be trying to gather titsbits to justify the controversial Aligarh encounter in which two youths – Mustaqeem and Naushad – were killed on September 20.
While the family members of Mustaqeem (21) and Naushad (17) were reportedly kept under “house arrest”, as no one is allegedly allowed to meet them, a human rights activists too is facing a “constant surveillance”.
Newsclick travelled to Atrauli to meet members of the deceased’s family. Naushad’s brother Salman has been picked up by the police, while Mustaqeem’s father has been reportedly missing since the day they all were picked up on September 16. Mustaqeem’s father has not come back home ever since and has no phone. The entire family has been living in extreme poverty, and their total assets do not amount to over Rs 2,000, Newsclick has found out.
Mustaqeem worked in a cloth shop, while Salman and Naushad worked under Haji Imran, a local entrepreneur who makes clothes. Nafis was not engaged anywhere because of mental illness, according the locals.
Neighbours and family have testified how police took them away when they had come home to have lunch. They were allegedly beaten up on their way. The police told them – the family members said – that they are being arrested in connection to the murders of Sadhu Ramdas and of one more couple that happened a few days back in Safedarpur, a nearby village under Harduaganj police station. A day later, the police allegedly informed the family that Mustaqeem and Naushad have “escaped” from police custody.
“On Sunday (September 20), a few policemen came to us, and said both Mustaqeem and Naushad are injured, and have been admitted in Malkhan Singh Hospital in Aligarh. We were asked to go and visit them. Since we did not have a single penny, the police even gave us Rs 100 for the bus fair,” said Naushad’s mother Shabana – whose husband abandoned her with five minor children long back.
Shabana and Heena (Mustaqeem’s wife) went to Aligarh only to find the dead bodies of the two boys. They said the dead bodies were bruised and battered with injury marks on their faces and heads. “Their jaws were also broken, and the blood on their bodies had turned black after clotting,” said an inconsolable Heena.
The two women said the police had taken their thumb impressions on blank papers to release the bodies. The cops allegedly also took away all their ID cards, including their Aadhaar cards, PAN cards and Mustaqeem’s Nikahnama. The families right now are allegedly without any identity proof.
The bodies of Naushad and Mustaqeem were allegedly buried without any rituals or namaz in presence of the controversial Haji Imran. The families have not got copy of FIR or post-mortem report yet.
All the neighbours have claimed that these boys were innocent, and there were no prior crime records. Newsclick spoke to a large number of neighbours, both men and women. They spoke on record that these boys were working in the nearby shops and workshops. They saw them going to work and coming back home every day. They have never seen them being engaged in any criminal activities.
Since the “encounter” took place, the family members and their neighbours said, the police have been posted in front of their house, and no one is allegedly allowed to meet them. In fact, the family has allegedly been starving for a few days in between because the neighbours were “not even allowed to take food to their homes”. An elderly woman from the neighbourhood said she wanted to go inside the deceased’s one-room rented accomodation to read the Quran to the bereaved mothers, but even she was allegedly not allowed.
The police have allegedly taken these women of the deceased’s family to the police station, and have repeatedly asked them not to “open their mouths to the media”. “The police have used intimidation tactics that Salman and Nafis who are still in their custody will also be killed if they interact with mediapersons,” alleged the family members.
Newsclick met Raees whose brother Dr Yasin has also been picked up in relation to the murder case on the September 16 at 8.45 pm “The Artoli police station in-charge (Parvesh Rana) called Yasin, and said he needed to talk. He went to the police station on my own bike and constable Raghuraj Singh accompanied me riding pillion on the same bike. When Yasin did not return after an hour, I went to the Kotwali to look for him. The SO squarely denied having received anyone there. After two-three days, I was informed that my brother is in judicial custody in Aligarh jail, and has been booked under section 302 (of the Indian Penal Code) in connection to the murder of Sadhu Ramdas of Safedarpur,” alleged Raees.
Asked why his brother was targeted, he said that they also have a home-based workshop of making clothes like Haji Imran in their house. On that day, he had called Mustaqeem to inquire about an order of some clothes from their shop. “May be because of that phone call made to Mustaqeem’s phone, he was also implicated in the case,” he added.
When this correspondent spoke to Atrauli police station in-charge Rana, he refused to engage in any dialogue. He was extremely hostile, and refused to talk about the encounter. He maintained these families are outsiders without any address proof, and have “criminal history”. However, he admitted that these boys had no criminal cases in that police station (Atrauli). He claimed that there are cases against them in other police stations, but did not specify where. He also said the “criminals” (Naushad and Mustaqeem) were lodged in various jails of Uttar Pradesh.
Link to the priest’s murder?
The family members of the slain priest have denied any remote possibility of these boys could be involved in the murder. In a fact finding report released by Lucknow-based Rihaai Manch, it has been stated that Ramdas’s family has denied any “remote possibilities” of these boys being involved in the murder, and even they have maintained that they were “innocent”.
- Were these boys involved in the murder of Sadhu Ramdas? Were they history sheeters who had stolen a motorcycle and were fleeing when they got killed? Why so many different narratives?
- If the police had fired in “self-defence” how come they called the media and did a live encounter? How were select media houses apprised of the encounter killing beforehand, when the police claims that they were forced to open fire only in self-defense, as they were shot at? Did the police know already before that these boys will open fire and police will fire in self-defence? The media footage of the encounter also does not reveal the encounter as either genuine or fake, as it only shows policemen taking aim from a distance and nowhere does it show any crossfire.
- Why have the police not given the post mortem report and copy of the FIR to the family yet?
- Why did the police raid the houses of the Naushad and Mustaqeem after killing them, and why did they take the Aadhar Card and PAN card of even their family members?
- How could Mustaqeem and Naushad ‘escape’ from police custody as the police had claimed to their families? Were the media alerted after two “dreaded criminals” had escaped? Was there any look out notice issued from the police for them after they escaped and before they were killed?
- Whose motorbike was stolen? Has there been any complaint registered with the police station about this stolen motorbike in which these boys escaped?
- In the live video of the ‘encounter’, one can only see police men shooting. There is no sound or visual of any cross firing. How can then we assume that there had been encounter at all.
Repeated attempts to speak to Alligarh SSP Ajay Sahani failed, as he did not respond to calls.