Bijnor: Palpable fear, anxiety and despair enveloped the Bijnor district in western Uttar Pradesh Sunday, two days after two men in their early twenties were killed and 131 arrested by the police in violence that erupted after Friday prayers against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Anas, 21, and Mohammed Suleiman, 20, were allegedly shot at by the police in Nehtaur, the epicentre of the violence. Bijnor’s superintendent of police Sanjeev Tyagi told ThePrint that of the 131 persons arrested in the district, 70 are from Nehtaur.
A UPSC aspirant, and a father of a 7-month-old
The family of Suleiman, one of the two men killed, called policemen “terrorists”.
“They aren’t police officers. They are terrorists. They are zaalim,” said Sheeba, his older sister.
Suleiman’s mother, Akbari Khatoon, added that her son was a UPSC aspirant.
“He would spend night and day just studying, preparing for UPSC. They killed my wonderful, hard-working son,” she said.
Meanwhile, what would’ve been a happy occasion for Anas’ family turned into mourning—his son turned seven months old the day after Anas was killed.
“He went out only to buy some milk. He had nothing to do with the protests,” said Anas’ father Arshad Hussain.
The bloodstain at the spot where Anas was killed is still fresh, and the sight continues to evoke tears in Hussain’s eyes.
Both families said the police didn’t allow Anas and Suleiman to be buried in Nehtaur, so they had to conduct their last rites 20 km away. However, Bijnor’s district magistrate Ramakant Pandey said this was a “perfectly normal requirement”, given the volatile law and order situation. “Burial in the region could create havoc,” he told ThePrint.
SP Tyagi added that neither family has filed a complaint yet.
“If they file a complaint, we will certainly register one. We haven’t received any complaints of police vandalising the homes either,” he said.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited both families’ homes Sunday.
‘Police barged into homes, lathi-charged family members’
Many of the arrested persons’ families claimed that the police barged into their homes and lathi-charged them, including women.
Zareena Khatoon, mother of 36-year-old Qamar Ahmed, alleged that the police arrested her son from their home, broke their TV set, vandalised their kitchen, and cut off the gas pipeline.
“They said they will burn up this place (while cutting off the gas line),” Khatoon said.
“They hit me and his younger sister with lathis too. I kept telling them my son has done nothing,” she said, adding that the police are refusing to tell her where her son is.
Nishat Parveen, sister of Javed Ansari (30), who was allegedly arrested from his home Friday afternoon, said about eight or ten policemen entered the house and broke a fan and a washbasin. Parveen also alleged the she and her mother were lathicharged by the police officers — all of whom were men.
“There wasn’t a single female police officer with them. How could they just barge into our homes and hit us like this?” Parveen said.
Bullet marks everywhere
Nehtaur residents also pointed out the bullet marks on various poles and doors near Naya Bazaar chowk, where the violence took place Friday.
“Look at how high this bullet mark is. If at all the situation was getting out of hand, it is basic practice to shoot below the belt. These bullet marks show that the intention was to kill,” a villager said while showing the marks.
“There is a lot of fear. But for how long will a person live in fear?” another villager asked.