Meerut: Days after five men were killed in Meerut in the violence that erupted in the wake of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, walls of the city are dotted with posters of “wanted” men.
The posters have come up outside police stations and other areas, featuring photographs of men who allegedly perpetrated the violence last Friday. The informers will be given appropriate reward, say the posters put up by the local police.
The Meerut police said they would stop at nothing to catch them.
As many as 15 FIRs have already been filed, naming 172 people. As many as 43 of them have been arrested so far, the police said.
Asked about those killed in the violence, the police said they did not fire at the protesters.
“Why would the police fire at any protester? They were the ones firing. We have recovered bullet shells from some of the protesters,” Ram Arj, SP (crime), Meerut, told ThePrint.
He said the police only used “anti-riot equipment” such as “tear gas and rubber bullets”.
The families of the deceased, however, pointed fingers at the police.
‘Police arrested my father even before violence broke out’
Mohammed Iqrar, 65, a resident of Jogi Wali gali, was arrested around 9.30 am last Friday, several hours before the protests and the subsequent violence, his family alleged.
“A couple of policemen came on motorbikes and held him by his collar when he was out in the market in the morning. When we asked them why they are taking my father, they said he is responsible for shutting down shops and inciting violence,” Mohammed Abrar, Iqrar’s son, told ThePrint.
Abrar said his father was in police custody while the violence took place Friday afternoon.
Iqrar is still under arrest at Brahmapuri police station.
‘If protesters fired at cops, why isn’t any officer dead?’
Four days after 29-year-old Aasif was killed in the violence, his three children, aged 9, 7 and 4, refuse to accept he is dead.
“They keep saying he has gone out to buy apples, and will be back soon. I don’t know what to say to them,” said his wife, Ikhtara.
Close to Aasif’s home in Rasheed Nagar — which was the epicenter of much of the violence — is another home that has lost the only earning member of the family.
Zahir Ahmed (45) was found injured by his father an hour after a bullet hit him in the head.
“We tried rushing him to a nearby hospital but he died on the way,” Munshi Ahmed, Zahir’s father, told ThePrint.
It is the police apathy afterwards that really disturbed me, says Ahmed.
“When we went to the police station, they said ‘tum hi maar ke laaye ho’ (you only killed him and brought him here),” he alleged.
Zahir’s elder brother, Mohammed Shahid, who lives nearby, said: “If they are saying that the protesters were the ones firing, then why are no policemen dead? Why are only civilians dead?”
Besides Aasif and Zahir, three others killed in the violence have been identified as Mohsin, Aalim and Asif.
Asked to comment on the allegations raised by the residents, the police said they would launch an investigation if they received official complaints.
Men staying up all night in fear of arrest
The formidable Ghanta Ghar, at the centre of the market named after it, seemed to be returning to normalcy Tuesday. However, the market area saw heavy police deployment.
“The shops were shut for some time after the violence, but things are looking better now,” a shopkeeper in the market told ThePrint.
But the situation isn’t recovering as smoothly in the smaller pockets of the city, where most of the violence took place. Rasheed Nagar and Firoze Nagar continue to wear a deserted look with many still living in fear of getting arrested.
“We don’t sleep. We stay up all night and stand outside our homes just in case the police show up late at night to arrest anyone,” said a 22-year-old youth in Firoze Nagar.
Asked what they will do if police come to arrest them, the youth said: “We will then try and convince the police that we weren’t involved in any rioting.”