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Kin of dead wait for justice in Firozabad

Looking for a thaw: Policewomen stand next to a fire on a cold day in Uttar Pradesh.  

Among six persons killed in Firozabad during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, on December 20 was a differently-abled man with a five-year-old daughter. Another victim leaves behind an ailing and dependent mother.

The dead have been identified as Mohammed Shafeeq, 40, Arman, alias Kallu, 24, Mukeem, 20, Mohammed Haroon, 30, Navi Jaan, 22, Rashid, 27 — all residents of areas along the Rasulpur bypass between Naini Glass junction and Jatavpuri junction.

The stretch was the centre of protests against the CAA, which started from the main market in the Mohammedganj area.

Arman, a labourer, was walking back from his factory when his brother Farman met him and told him to quickly go home because the situation was becoming tense. But as he was crossing the bypass, a bullet hit him on his chest and he died instantly.

Locals nearby informed his paternal uncle Mohammed Taufeeq that Arman was lying dead by the road. Mr. Taufeeq and others then brought the body home and informed his father Yameen who was at their residence in Azadnagar a few metres away.

“We didn’t call the police because they were the ones who shot him. Only the police were firing. Protesters were throwing stones. We kept his body at home that night. We didn’t know what to do… that’s when our elders came and told us to take him to hospital for a post-mortem and also get an FIR registered,” Mr. Taufeeq said.

Early on Saturday, around 2.30 a.m., Arman’s body was handed over to his family. They were told that they should complete the last rites before sunrise or the police would bury him near the hospital. “They told us to do this so that the environment remains peaceful.”

Mr. Yameen said the police continued to question them if Arman had any enemies but they stood their ground and an FIR was registered. “All we want is that they don’t implicate any innocent person for Arman’s killing. There should be a fair investigation,” Mr. Taufeeq said.

Arman’s father had only just recovered from his wife’s death five months ago and undergone a surgery recently for a brain tumour when the tragedy struck.

Mukeem was shot at in front of his uncle Kallu. The two were returning from work at a bangle-making factory.

Seeing the crowds, they started running back when Mukeem was hit at the back by a bullet near his shoulder. “I found a wooden cart, put him on it and pushed about 3 km to the government hospital. He was referred to Agra. He wasn’t treated well there; wasn’t even cleaned,” Mr Kallu said adding that he was taken to Delhi where he breathed his last on December 23. However, his body was only handed over on December 25 because Mukeem didn’t have Aadhaar card. Mukeem’s family was also forced to conduct his last rites and burial before dawn.

“We live in a rented house. He wanted to buy his own. All his brothers are younger and his father is ill,” said his distraught mother.

At Rashid’s house in Kashmere Gate, his father Noor Mohammed, 59, is feeding his five-year-old granddaughter Afreen. It was chicken and rice for lunch. “We’ll take care of her now. She doesn’t realise he’s gone,” Mr. Noor said.

Rashid was differently abled. He couldn’t move his right hand. Mr. Noor showed his documents and pictures. “How could he be a protester?” asked the grieving father.

The family was informed about his body lying on the road side near Naini Glass junction around 7:30 p.m. They retrieved it and then went to a hospital where a post mortem was conducted. As with the other victims, his body was handed over at 3:30 a.m. The burial was a hurried one-hour affair under police surveillance, with just about 15 people in attendance.

Helpless mother

Navi Jaan of Mohammedganj had gone to the factory in the morning after helping his mother Hakeela Begum to the washroom as she has a knee injury and has difficulty walking.

“He had left the house after lunch. I told him he is not eating enough. He said he’ll come back and eat well. He will not come now,” Ms. Hakeela sobbed.

After Friday prayers which Navi Jaan and his father Mohammed Ayyub had attended together, the father returned and Navi went back to work. Mr Ayyub hadn’t even reached home when the situation worsened. He called Navi and asked him to come home immediately; the son said he was coming. But he didn’t reach home. He was shot dead.

Another hurried, pre-dawn burial followed.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 6:23:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/kin-of-dead-wait-for-justice-in-firozabad/article30427440.ece

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