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A mother fights on to put faces to ‘policemen’ who fatally injured son during Delhi riots

Faizan is one of estimated 53 people killed in last year's Delhi riots. The youngster — along with 4 others — was allegedly assaulted by policemen in Kardampuri on 24 Feb.

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New Delhi: Ammi, mein jaa raha hu (mother, I am going),” Faizan, 23, a resident of northeast Delhi, said to his mother in the small hours of 27 February 2020. Lying in a hospital bed, nursing multiple injuries, Faizan said no more, and drew his last breath.

The words keep coming back to Kismatun, 61, a year later. They break her heart, but, at the same time, the words strengthen her resolve to ensure the men who killed her son are brought to justice. 

Faizan is one of the 53 people killed in the communal riots that erupted in northeast Delhi last year. The youngster — along with four others — was allegedly assaulted in Kardampuri on 24 February. 

According to a viral video from the scene, the attackers appear to be personnel of Delhi Police. The men — wearing riot gear — are seen attacking the five men with rifle butts and batons. As the men lie sprawled on the road, the alleged policemen appear to force them to sing the national anthem and ‘Vande Mataram’ — apparently as a test of their patriotism. 

Acche se ga (sing properly),” someone is heard saying. Another voice adds: “You stay in Hindustan, you want azaadi?” Wails of the men punctuate the video and a statement of indeterminate origin floats in: “Hum sab Bharatwaasi hai (we are all Indians).”

The video includes glimpses of a purported policeman filming the whole episode from close quarters.

The Delhi Police filed a case in the matter against unknown persons last February, but the assailants are yet to be identified.

In December, Kismatun filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking the identification of the alleged police personnel in the video through a court-monitored probe. At a hearing earlier this month, Delhi Police said efforts are under way to identify the personnel. Footage from the scene, it added, is being forensically analysed to establish if it was filmed by a policeman “pinpointed on a probable basis”.

“The investigation is on. We will submit all our findings in front of the court on 15 March (next hearing),” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rajesh Deo said when reached for comment.

Speaking to ThePrint, Kismatun, a widow, said she has dug her heels in, no matter how long her fight lasts.

Pair ghis jayenge lekin daurna nahi chhodungi. Faizan ko abhi insaaf nahi mila hai, uske gunehgaar abhi khula ghum rahe hai (Even if my feet get worn out, I won’t stop running till justice is delivered. The guilty are still roaming free),” she said. 

“The people who are supposed to protect us (police) ended up being the ones to torture him.”


Also Read: A year on, Delhi riot victims struggle to cope with depression, nightmares & livelihood loss


Faizan had gone out looking for his mother 

Faizan’s daily schedule was pretty much set in stone, says his family. He would wake up at 4 am, finish some household chores, and head for work at a meat market. 

According to Kismatun’s petition, on 24 February, there was a hiccup to his routine — when he returned home in the evening, he couldn’t find his mother.

Faizan, 23, died early 27 February | By special arrangement
Faizan, 23, died early 27 February | By special arrangement

When he discovered his mother was at the anti-CAA protest site nearby, he got alarmed. He had heard reports of violence in the area, and panic set in. He rushed to look for her outside, but was instead allegedly caught by policemen. 

Back home, Kismatun had returned soon after Faizan ventured out. She wouldn’t know until much later what exactly he was going through, but she said she sensed almost immediately that something was amiss. She kept “growing restless”, almost like her “heart knew that something bad was happening to him”. 

Many injuries

Faizan is the only one among the five men who succumbed to his injuries. In the video, he is seen slumped in a corner, wearing a light blue t-shirt, black track pants and a pair of floaters.

According to Faizan’s autopsy report, accessed by ThePrint, “the pattern of his injuries is consistent with assault”. 

“Death is due to cerebral injury associated with multiple blunt injuries over the body. All injuries are ante-mortem, 2-3 days in duration,” the report says. Faizan, the report adds, suffered as many as 20 injuries, including on the head. 

According to Kismatun, her son’s death — over two days after the attack — was the result of delayed medical attention.

In the immediate aftermath of the assault, the five men were taken to GTB Hospital, which catered to most of the riot casualties since it is close to the affected area. The police told the court in a status report on 1 February this year that Faizan was discharged “after initial treatment” and taken to Jyoti Nagar police station.

In her petition, Kismatum has alleged that police illegally detained her severely injured son at the station through 24 and 25 February, denying him medical treatment. 

“I kept running to the police station, begging them to release my son, but they didn’t release him until the 25th night,” she said. 

The police, however, denied the claim, saying in their status report that Faizan and two others were brought to the station at their own request, as the trio sought “safety and security”.

ThePrint reached the then GTB spokesperson Dr Sumit Kumar through calls and text for a comment about the case, but didn’t receive a response by the time of publishing this report. Incumbent spokesperson and GTB hospital director Dr R.S. Rautela refused to comment on the matter, saying he only took charge in June last year.

Faizan was finally released, Kismatun’s petition states, around 11 pm on 25 February. 

“I got him home with the help of a Hindu neighbour, there was no one ready to help me in that situation. When I got him home…I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every bone in his body was hurting, he was restless, every breath he took seemed to make him ache,” she said in her petition. “I had to cut open his clothes to apply malham (medicine) on some wounds.” 

Speaking to ThePrint, she said he “couldn’t move when I met him”. 

“I tried to feed him milk but he couldn’t even swallow that. I remember that day like yesterday,” she added, breaking down as she pointed to areas on her body to explain where all Faizan was wounded. 

Kismatun eventually got Faizan admitted to LNJP hospital, but it was too late. He died early 27 February.


Also Read: Investigation pending in 407 of 755 cases a year after northeast Delhi riots


Police yet to identify accused 

A year on, the Delhi Police has still not been able to identify the accused. After Faizan’s death, an FIR was registered at Bhajanpura police station on 28 February against “unknown persons”, but the case was later transferred to the crime branch. 

In court, the police said on 1 February that they are still trying to ascertain the identity of the personnel as none of their faces is visible in the four clips available with them. The footage, they claim, is “blurred”. 

To identify a “person in police uniform” who was seen “holding a teargas gun and recording a video from his mobile phone” at the “scene of the crime”, the police are examining personnel carrying teargas guns, they said.

This person, the police added, was without a helmet but his face isn’t clear as the video was shot from a distance. 

One person, they said, has been “pinpointed on probable basis” and his mobile phone seized. The police are now awaiting a forensic science laboratory assessment on whether the video was shot from his phone. 

The court, meanwhile, has directed the police to state on record if the CCTV cameras at Jyoti Nagar police station were working at the time Faizan was brought in. This has to be submitted at the next hearing on 15 March.


Also Read: Film on Delhi riots recounts ‘burn & blame’, book probes ‘larger conspiracy’ as city burned


‘The journey is difficult but I will fight, we will win’

Kismatun, who lost her husband 22 years ago, has three sons and two daughters, but describes Faizan as her favourite. “Wo mera sabse accha baccha hai (He is my best child). He had no flaws,” she said. 

“He would sleep beside me, pray with me and crack jokes that gave me tears of laughter. He would come home by early evening and hand over his daily earnings of Rs 800-1000,” she added.

Now, she carries a passport-size photo of Faizan — where he is dressed in a blue and white kurta — with herself. “I made him wear this the day before he died. He used to look like a prince in it,” she told ThePrint. 

To bring her son’s killers to justice, she said, she will “walk any distance, cross any hurdle”. 

“If I am not able to do it, what face shall I show God when I die? His soul needs to be at peace,” she added. 

Victory, she is sure, will be hers.

Ek woh din tha, aaj yeh ek din hai. Safar mushkil hai, lekin main ladungi. Hum jeetenge (That was one day, today is another day. The journey is difficult but I will fight, we will win),” she said.


Also Read: Why Northeast Delhi violence is India’s first Hindu-Muslim riots with guns  


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. such a heart wrenching incident, And his murderers are roaming freely and probably in police uniform in the national capital.

  2. They were no ordinary police men. They were Hindu Police. Communalisation of Security apparatus is almost complete under the current regime. From, “standing and watching” they have graduated into “active collaborators” of the right wing Hindu goons. Be it JNU, AMU, JMI, CAA protest, Farmers protest, or whatever.

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