New Delhi: The People’s Collective, an independent group on Wednesday highlighted serious lapses in the police investigation and demanded fresh High Court-monitored probe into the Kasganj riots of January 26.
The report compiled by journalist Ajit Sahi, released and endorsed by Ramon Magsaysay winner, Sandeep Pandey, rights activist Teesta Setalvad and Apoorvanand, retired IPS SS Darapuri and student leader Umar Khalid, alleges the probe was in favor of a particular group. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan has also endorsed the report. The report also alleged that the police protected the Hindus and targeted Muslims.
According to police, the violence began after a group of Muslims obstructed a group of Hindus taking out a motorcycle procession – Tiranga Yatra – to mark the Republic Day. The report questions the need of filing two FIRs and highlights major contradictions in them. The report claims inconsistencies in the FIRs and a filing delay of 12-14 hours after the events happened; it is to be noted that the violence allegedly occurred barely 200 meters from the police station.
“Neither FIR mentions the violence at Abdul Hameed Chowk, which happened before Chandan was shot. The 1st FIR claims that violence occurred elsewhere, but does not mention Chandan being shot. The 2nd FIR mentions Chandan being shot but not the preceding violence. The 1st FIR names only Muslims as accused even though it acknowledges Hindus too indulged in the violence. The 2nd FIR mentions no Hindus at all, claiming Muslims attacked Hindus” the report says.
The report also says that though 19 Muslims named in the FIR were arrested over a period of two months and not a single Hindu was arrested. On January 26, one person was killed amid arson in communal clashes which broke out in Kasganj’s Abdul Hamid Chowk, near Bikram Gate. Based on the FIR filed by the Sushil Gupta, father of the deceased (Chandan Gupta), Saleem Javed was arrested along with his two brothers Naseem and Waseem and they are in jail ever since. His brother Shamim and mother Shakina Begum was also present in the gathering.
Accusing the police of an intentional cover-up, the report states that Anukalp Thakur, who led the Bikers rally on Republic Day led the pall-bearers at Chandan’s funeral. “The 1st FIR’s investigating officer claimed the motorcycle rally organizer, Anukalp Chauhan, absconded on January 26. But the next day he led the pall-bearers at Chandan’s funeral. And the 2nd FIR’s investigating officer met Chauhan at his home on February 2 to record his statement,” the report says.
Chauhan is an accused in the case for the violence, but also a witness in the case for Chandan’s death. The report also alleges that CCTV footage of the incident has not been taken into account in its investigation by the police.
The panelists also pointed out that Anukalp Chauhan. who according to the police was absconding, surrendered in April and got bail within a day but Salim, the alleged shooter got bail months later by the Allahabad high court but still remains in jail as the non-bailable National Security Act was slapped against him.
The collective while releasing this report, demanded Uttar Pradesh government to immediately terminate the current prosecution of the two charge-sheets and move the Allahabad HC seeking a fresh police investigation monitored by the court. They also demand a high-level official inquiry into the administrative and police failure to prevent the violence and the sabotage of the investigations.
The report has been endorsed by Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York; Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai; Indian American Muslim Council, Washington; Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, New Delhi; Rihaee Manch, Lucknow; South Asia Solidarity Group, London, and United Against Hate, New Delhi.
Teesta Setalvad in her address pointed to the attack on Saleem’s house on January 27 which hasn’t been probed and the general discriminatory delivery of the justice system in India.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who was not physically present in the launch but sent a video, said: “Police supporting Hindutva is dangerous.”