Ghaziabad: A day after a video of 72-year-old Abdul Samad Saifi being thrashed and his beard being chopped off went viral, the Ghaziabad police claimed that it was a case of “personal enmity”, saying some people were angry with him because he had given a ‘taweez (amulet)’ to one of the accused for “good fortune” but a mishap occurred in the family, instead.
In a related video that also shared widely, the man was seen complaining that he was also forced to chant “Jai Siya Ram”. The police, however, said this did not happen, and that Saifi’s formal complaint filed on 7 June did not mention this charge.
According to the police, Saifi had given a ‘taweez (amulet)’ to one of the accused claiming it would bring him good fortune, but a miscarriage in the family irked the man and he then ganged up with the others and beat up Saifi.
Three persons, including a Muslim youth Adil, have been arrested in connection with the assault, even as Adil’s family said he was at the spot “only to save Saifi”.
The police said a hunt is on for the other accused. Of the total “7-8 boys” who tortured Saifi, “3-4 are Hindus, rest Muslims”, Ghaziabad Superintendent of Police (Rural) Iraj Raja said.
While the incident is said to have occurred earlier this month, and even a case was registered on 7 June, the matter became a topic of discussion on social media Monday after a mute video of the 72-year-old being beaten up ruthlessly at gunpoint by a group of men and his beard being chopped off surfaced on the internet.
In a separate clip, Saifi can be seen alleging that he was abducted and taken to Hajipur Bheta in UP’s Ghaziabad district from Bulandshahr. His videos and the photos of his wounds evoked massive response across social media.
In a video uploaded by Samajwadi Party member Ummed Pehalwan Idrisi, Saifi said on 7 June: “Bahut maara mujhe, Jai Siya Ram ke naare lagaon bola, maine Allah bola toh aur laat gushe maare… (They thrashed me, asked me to chant Jai Siya Ram and when I took Allah’s name, they kicked and punched me more…).”
He also said the men “mercilessly beat me for four hours”.
However, contrary to Saifi’s allegations in the video and also in his formal complaint, the police refuted claims that he was targeted because of his religion.
Ghaziabad Superintendent of Police (Rural) Iraj Raja said: “There wasn’t any instance of chanting Jai Shri Ram, it is completely incorrect. He didn’t even mention it while filing the complaint.” The FIR in the case was lodged on the basis of Saifi’s complaint filed on 7 June.
A copy of the FIR was accessed by ThePrint, and it doesn’t mention the charge that he was asked to chant “Jai Shri Ram“.
The three persons have been arrested under sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
While Kallu Gujjar and Adil were arrested Monday, prime accused Parvesh Gujjar had already been in custody in connection with an extortion case since Saturday. “There were a total of 7-8 boys who beat up Saifi, 3-4 of them are Hindus, rest Muslims,” SP Raja said.
Meanwhile, the National Minority Commission has taken note of the incident and asked for a report from the police in seven days.
‘No communal angle’
According to the police, all the accused and the victim were known to each other as Saifi deals in ‘taweez’, and that there is no communal angle in the case.
“Upon investigation, we found out that Abdul Samad deals in ‘taweez’, which he has given to a lot of people from both communities — Hindus and Muslims — in Hajipur Bheta village. A lot of his relatives also live there. The men beat him up because they were upset that his taweez didn’t work. We are verifying all claims and angles,” the SP said.
This was, however, denied by Mohammed Waseem, Saifi’s youngest son. “My brother Babbu Saifi and I do odd jobs. Our father is old and doesn’t do any kind of work,” he said.
In his police complaint against “unknown persons”, the 72-year-old has narrated how he was offered an auto ride while on his way to Bheta Hajipur village, near Loni Border police station, and was later taken to a room to an isolated location and confined there, before he was beaten up and his beard chopped off.
“Around 2.30 pm, I reached near Loni Border police station, when an auto puller offered me a ride saying ‘Chacha miyan kahaan jaoge, aao baitho mein chhod dunga aapko (Uncle, where do you have to go? Come I will drop you)’. I told him I have to go to a masjid dargah but instead I was taken near the railway underpass. When I questioned the auto wala about the route, he and three others hit me and took me to an isolated location and beat me up,” the complaint read.
While Waseem said his father had gone to offer condolences to the family of a relative who died during Ramzan, adding that he couldn’t go earlier due to the lockdown, the police said Saifi had come to Ghaziabad for business, and was called by main accused Parvesh.
Sources said Parvesh and the others were upset over “opposite reactions” of Saifi’s taweez. “There are some matters that need to be verified. Someone in Parvesh’s family had a miscarriage, which they counted as an opposite reaction of Saifi’s amulets and blamed him for it,” a senior police officer said.
“Saifi was picked up on a Scooty from Loni by a person sent by Parvesh. The duo then headed to Gujjar’s house in Banthla village, Loni. Upon reaching Parvesh’s house, after sometime, Kallu, Poli, Arif, Adil and Mushahid came by and started beating him together. The boys, all of them around the age of 18-20, know each other well and are from Loni. The other accused will be arrested soon,” SP Raja said.
Adil’s brother Mohammed Shehzad, however, said the former is innocent and had only gone to Gujjar’s house to “save Saifi”. “This is a conspiracy to tarnish our image. I have a gym there and even the Gujjars would come. That’s how we know each other. But no Muslim hit the old man,” he said.
Meanwhile, the police are yet to find the original video clip of the incident, shot on Parvesh’s phone. The video was leaked on social media by some of Gujjar’s friends after he was arrested. Most of the suspects in the case have past cases of extortion, murder etc registered against them, according to the police.
“We are trying to get hold of Gujjar’s phone, the original clip will give more clarity,” SP Raja said.
“Saifi was not providing us with any details of his visits, his complaint also doesn’t mention any of the other details mentioned in the video uploaded on 7 June,” said the senior police officer quoted above, adding that the allegations of being forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and showing videos of violence against Muslims were added later after ‘outside influence’,” he added.
Saifi’s relatives, meanwhile, said the 72-year-old was extremely scared after the incident and agreed to lodge the complaint on 7 June only after confiding in Samajwadi Party member Ummed Pehalwan Idrisi and some other well-wishers.