Anguish in Uttar Pradesh town, where two youths fell to bullets

Grieving a loss: Arshad Hussain at the lane where his son, Anas, was shot.   | Photo Credit: Anuj Kumar

Amjad Hussain who runs Target Coaching in Nehtaur has saved the number of Sulaiman Malik in his phone as DM Sulaiman. “Sulaiman did it himself for he believed that one day he would become a district magistrate,” said Mr. Hussain in a choked voice. Sulaiman, 20, a final year graduate student, who was undertaking UPSC coaching in Noida, was one of the two young men who died of gunshot injury on December 20 after the Friday prayers. The family and neighbours denied the police version, reported by The Hindu on December 22, where Bijnor Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Tyagi said, “Sulaiman was shot dead in self-defence by a constable who was trying to retrieve the official weapon of a sub-inspector that was snatched by the mob.”

“Sulaiman had high fever. He told us that he would return home and have food after the prayers. But within half-an-hour, I got a call that my brother had been shot dead. We think he was picked up by the police from Agency Chowk and shot dead in the lane near Ghasipur Mandi,” said Shoyb Malik, his elder brother. “We picked up the body. When we were about to reach home, the police came in large numbers and asked us to take the body for post-mortem in Bijnor. Later, we were denied permission to bury the body in Nehtaur. We were threatened. We had to bury it in Sulaiman’s maternal uncle’s village. No post-mortem report or paper has been given to us,” he said,

“The NRC would come later. We have already been uprooted when we could not bury our son in our soil. Though the stakes are against us, we will go to court,” said Anwar Usmani, the maternal uncle of Sulaiman.

Arshad Hussain, father of Anas (20), who was shot in the eye in the main market of Nehtaur, when he allegedly went out to fetch milk for his seven-month-old son after the Friday prayers is in anguish. “There is a graveyard 50 metres from my residence but the police said they would not allow us to bury Anas in Nehtaur even if I have a graveyard in my house. Was my son a terrorist?” asked Hussain, who runs a tailoring shop.

A quiet town with a rich academic past, Nehtaur is where Urdu litterateur and Jananpith Award winner Qurratulain Hyder hails from.

“A Muslim majority town, it was described as danishmandon ke shehar (city of the enlightened) by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. We didn’t face any communal problem even during the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013. It is an attempt to malign the image of the Muslim youth,” said Tajammul Hussain, uncle of Anas, who teaches Civics in Islamia Inter College, Muzaffarnagar. “How would I tell my students that the country has the rule of law, that everybody is equal before the law. The SP has said one could not protest against a law enacted by Parliament. He didn’t know CAA had yet to pass legal scrutiny. Did any Muslim protest against the Ayodhya verdict?” he asked. “This government is testing us, but we have faith in our Constitution,” he said, adding they would approach the court as the police were not responding to their complaint.

“People are in the grip of fear as the police have listed 2500 unnamed persons in the FIR. They could detain anybody at night. We have spent two nights outside. We can’t afford to lose any more boys,” said Mr. Hussain.

Mr. Malik said the role of Police Mitrs (friends of police), who were seen using sticks with the police should also be investigated. “They are the right-wing people in civil dress who provoke Muslim youth,” he alleged. Locals said there was no call for protest in Nehtaur and it was these Police Mitrs that provoked the Muslim youth after the Friday prayers.

The local media’s role is also being questioned as they are describing the protesters with a generic word updravi (miscreant). A look at a cross-section of papers in Nehtaur revealed that the names of all 39 persons named in the FIR have been published. The editor of a local paper admitted that the media was being used by the police to create fear among Muslims.

“When the paper publishes Salman, every Salman who was part of the protest would feel that it could be him. We are being used, but we have little option”, he said.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 3:09:35 AM |

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