Saharanpur/New Delhi: Mohammad Imran, 22, got engaged on May 10. He was preparing to return to work in Kerala to return the following year for his wedding. Little did he know he would land in jail for an alleged crime his family claims he was not even remotely associated with.
Imran was picked up by Uttar Pradesh police on June 10, allegedly in Kishanpura locality of Saharanpur, where he had gone with his three friends to inquire about buses to Delhi. He had to board a train from the national capital for the southern Indian state on June 11.
He didn’t come back until the next morning. His distraught family had no idea where he was when his younger brother was told by someone that Imran was in police custody for allegedly participating in Friday’s protest against offensive remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, now suspended and expelled. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal.
Protests across Uttar Pradesh, including in Saharanpur, after congregational Friday prayers had turned violent in some places, with reports of beatings with bricks and stones.
Amid allegations of ‘extrajudicial’ police crackdown involving the ‘brutal torture’ of some of the defendants and the confiscation and demolition of their property, more than 300 people have so far been arrested across the state in connection of 13 FIRs (first information reports).
Among them, 86 people were arrested in the city of Sahanpur alone where bulldozers also came out, partially razing the residences of the two accused, Muzammil and Abdul Waqir.
After learning of the arrest of her son, who works as a welder in a workshop in Kerala, Imran’s mother. Rayeesa, 49, ran from one police station to another to inquire about her son’s welfare, but to no avail.
“He was detained at Kotwali Nagar Police Station, but officials denied this. As I was urging Kotwal Sahab (the police officer who commands a Kotwali) to let me meet my son if he was locked up in his police station and he continued to deny his custody, I saw Imran and others walk out and be forced into a vehicle to be sent to jail. All looked brutally tortured and in pain. While some of them appeared to have broken limbs, others were unable to walk properly from the merciless beatings through the night,” he described the scene at the police station, his voice muffled.
Rayeesa claimed her son had chest pains, but tried unsuccessfully to pretend to be fine. “As he approached me, he couldn’t hide his pain. He held his chest and burst into tears,” the mother collapsed as she recounted her ordeal to NewsClick.
“My son is innocent; he said Friday prayers in a mosque in our Mohallah (Pakka Bagh), which is at least 3 kilometers from the stretch between Jama Masjid and Ghanta Ghar where violence had erupted after prayers. It has nothing to do with restlessness. After the namaz (prayer), he was at home at the time of the violence. He had gone out with his friend in the evening to inquire about the bus he was to take the next morning to reach Delhi from where he was to take a train to Kerala,” Rayeesa said inconsolably.
Mohammad Saif was also among them the boys who were arrested by police allegedly from Kishanpura in connection with the violence. In the viral video of inhuman prison torture Shared by Shalabh Mani Tripathi, a ruling MP from Deoria’s Bharatiya Janata Party and close aide to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who shared on Twitter with the caption ‘give back a present to the rioters’, the 25-year-old can be seen whereas kurta-pajamas (a comfortable outfit that Muslims usually wear on Fridays).
Saif’s elder brother Javed, who makes corrugated boxes, said Saif also performed the congregational prayer at a local mosque in Qutub Sher area of Saharanpur, where they reside.
“My brother is a day laborer, he is the one who cares the least about what is happening across the country. He had returned home around 1:35 p.m. after Friday prayers. He stayed home until evening. His friends, Imran and Rahat, had come to meet him after the prayer. They had lunch together. Since Imran had to leave for Kerala, the three friends went to pick up the bus pick up point for Delhi as the location had temporarily changed in view of the massive road and sewage construction work going on. in the city,” he claimed.
NewsClick accessed CCTV footage that shows the three men exiting the lane where Saif’s house is on two different motorbikes. The 41-second video recorded between
The video from 17:09:55 to 17:10:33 on June 10 shows Saif alone on a motorbike. He was followed by another bicycle, which has a passenger. As Rahat rides the second bike, according to Javed, Imran can be seen sitting behind him in firozi (light blue) color kurtaswith a black cap. (This publication does not guarantee the authenticity of the video.)
Javed said the three friends could not be found until the early hours of June 11, when Imran’s family first learned of their custody. He repeated that the trio were arrested by police on the evening of June 10 in the Kishanpura area.
Identifying his brother Saif in the video, who can be seen beaten black and blue in a corner in a white outfit, his sister, who had just returned from visiting him in prison, said he had been beaten so badly that he was unable to stand on his feet.
“He was crying and his dress was soaked in blood. He did not even receive medical treatment. He was taken to a doctor who took his thumbprint on some papers and sent him away without examining him or providing him with medication. He suffers from severe pain. He and all of his co-defendants are even denied water in this heat. They cannot even use the toilet because the cell where they are housed has a beehive,” she alleged.
VIDEO AT A GLANCE
In the viral video (on which a the probe has been ordered by the police after public outrage), a young man can be seen pleading with the police not to beat him up because he suffered a broken hand. But his horrific screams fail to shake the policeman who continues to rain batons on him. The youngster’s name is Mohammad Ali, a resident of Peer Gali of Saharanpur.
Every time Ali’s mother looks at the pictures, she breaks down. “Uske haath sooj kar mote mote ho rahe le. Woh bahut zyada ro raha tha aur bol raha (His two hands were swollen, one of which was broken). He was crying and asking his mammy (maternal aunt) who had gone to see him in prison to take him away. He hasn’t eaten anything for the past three days,” she said. NewsClick, alleging that her son had been framed.
Next to Saif in the row is Mohammad Tareef in a black shirt, a resident of Khajoortala Hashim Khan Chowk.
Confirming Tareef’s presence in the video, his brother Mohammad Tauheed broke down in tears and said, “Bahut buri tarah maar rakha hai, pura ghutna phaad rakha hai sir. Uska pair khoon se latpat hai. Koi dawa nahin from rahe hain (He was very badly beaten; his knee is badly injured. Both his legs were soaked with blood. He does not give any medicine).
He alleged that his brother was detained by the police as he passed through Baba Cycle at the Nehru market, which is far from the scene of the violence.
The man in the green shirt in the video is Rahat Ali, who resides in Aali Ka Mohalla. He seems the worst victim of “police brutality”.
AFTER DENIAL, COPS NOW LAUNCH PROBE
When the video started making the rounds on social media after it was tweeted by a BJP lawmaker, Uttar Pradesh Police (Law and Order) Additional Director General Prashant Kumar said: “We do not subscribe not to such things. We are investigating. In case this turns out to be true, we will take action against errant police officers.
But at the same time, he also questioned the authenticity of the video, saying that “a few people in the video are not from the state…”.
Despite repeated assurances of investigation and action against culpable police officials, Harapur Police Chief Superintendent Akash Tomar, instead of following his senior official who had assured an investigation, continued to deny that the video was from harapur.
“No such incident happened in Saharanpur. The video circulating on social media is not from Saharanpur,” he told several reporters, including NewsClick.
His caddie, Rajesh Kumar, SP of harapurpur city too brazenly denied that such torture took place in harapur. “No such incident has come to our knowledge. Even no family of the accused has approached us so far. Just based on a video, you cannot claim that she is from Saharanpur “, he had declared.
Amazingly, the repeated denials came after everyone seen being brutally tortured was named in the FIR filed by the police.
When asked to confirm whether those arrested by the police were arrested, he declined to give details.
But when the video was verified by reporters as being located in Saharanpur, following repeated denials from the SSP and City Saharanpur SP, top cops now say they are investigating torture in custody and those responsible responsible would be punished if the video turned out to be true.
The probe will be led by SP Kumar himself.
CONVICTION BY EX-TOP COPS, JUDGES
Calling for a fair investigation, Vikram Singh, former UP police chief executive, said such action could in no way be justified. “This is a serious matter. If the video turns out to be true, those responsible must be brought to justice,” he said in his brief commentary on the video.
Meeran Chadha Borwankar, former chief executive of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), said it was indeed very shameful.
‘We should not refrain from apologizing to all of us in uniform,’ she said, stressing the need for it to be heard by either the National Human Rights Commission or the Supreme Court if the video turns out to be true.
“I agree that men in uniform sometimes go crazy in rural India. We don’t have to attack citizens of this country. I hope that if the video turns out to be true, the UP police will not hesitate to act and the court will intervene,” she said.
Former Supreme Court Justice Madan B Lukur said it looked like Uttar Pradesh no longer had the rule of law. “No civilized society can tolerate this barbarity,” he said, saying there is a human rights commission in Uttar Pradesh, a high court in Allahabad, the National Human Rights Commission man and the Supreme Court in New Delhi, but strangely all these institutions are silent.