Have not heard of Pinjra Tod, says accused in Delhi riots case

Shahrukh Khan, a 24-year-old auto mechanic who has been charged with sections of rioting and murder, and who lost complete vision in one eye and 90% in the other during the north-east Delhi riots in February, said he hasn’t heard of Devangana Kalita or Natasha Narwal, Pinjra Tod activists whose names the police say was in his confession statement.

In a case connected to the Jafrabad riots — in which an 18-year-old boy, Amaan, was killed — the police arrested 12 people, out of which 10, including Shahrukh, were chargesheeted by the Delhi police on June 2.

The police submitted that in his confession, Shahrukh named Mohammed Faizan, Natasha, Devangana, Suhasini, Gul and others to be involved in the incident. The police had also arrested Devangana and Natasha in connection with the case.

“I haven’t heard their names,” said Shahrukh, when The Hindu caught up with him at his jhuggi in New Seelampur.

Sitting next to him was his mother Jaheda (54), holding his hand. During the riots, bullet shards hit Shahrukh in the eyes and he lost complete vision in one eye and 90% in another. He claimed that men in uniform were firing from the opposite side.

Recalling the day, Shahrukh said it was his weekly off and in the afternoon, he went outside. “I started walking, saw a funeral procession and started walking with them. I reached Jafrabad, in the vicinity of a school. When stone-pelting started from the opposite side and many others from our side retaliated, I too joined in,” he said.

Within minutes, Shahrukh was hit by bullet shards and he fell on the road, after which he was first rushed by locals to a hospital nearby and next to Lok Nayak Hospital. From there he was referred to Guru Nanak Eye Centre, where he was treated for 4-5 days.

In the first week of March, Shahrukh’s father Ayaz said that they received a call from a ‘government office’ stating that they should submit compensation papers in the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s office as Shahrukh was injured. They decided to visit the Jafrabad police station on March 5 to register a first information report to be attached with the compensation papers.

Shahrukh said that he and his mother went to the police station where they were first asked to wait. “After a few hours, they told me that I was involved in rioting and said there was a video in which I could be seen,” he said. In the chargesheet, the police have stated that Shahrukh can be seen with the aggressive crowd holding a stone and hurling it.

The police then told the family that Shahrukh – who was still nursing his wounds – would be arrested and produced before the court the next day. Mr. Ayaz alleged that policemen demanded and took ₹10,000 from them for not beating Shahrukh during questioning.

“Even then, they punched me in the stomach twice. By then, another policeman came and stopped them saying they shouldn’t beat me because I am blind,” claimed Shahrukh.

Signed statement

He also said that the police made him sign a statement which he couldn’t read because his vision was impaired [Shahrukh has studied up to Class 6]; his mother, who was with him, is illiterate.

“We don’t know what they wrote in it,” he said.

On March 6, he was produced before the court in presence of his family and advocate where the judge granted him bail on humanitarian grounds.

Ever since, Shahrukh has been home. “His life is a struggle now. He won’t be able to work or even get married. I have to take him to the public toilet nearby... he fell in the drain once when he tried to go alone,” said Ms. Jaheda.

Plan to move NHRC

“No police officer has the power to shoot an unarmed person and that too from a close distance. And against this act, we are even planning to move the National Human Rights Commission,” Shahrukh’s advocate Himalaya Gupta said.

“I don’t know why I went that day. If it wasn’t a weekly off, I would have been at work and nothing would have happened,” said Shahrukh.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 3:19:17 PM |

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