Connecting the Dots of ‘Violence’ Claims by UP Police in Bareilly
Do the claims of violence during lockdown by locals of a Muslim-dominated village in Bareilly hold ground?
On 6 April, two policemen in UP's Bareilly district had gone to Karampur Chaudhary village. A hamlet with a population of around 6,000, Karampur Chaudhary lies 10 kms from Bareilly.
The policemen had gone on a regular patrol with an objective of ensuring that everyone was abiding by the lockdown. But when they tried to reason out with some local residents, the allegation is that a spat followed between the police and some villagers. A minor friction apparently turned into a major fracas when a group of villagers came to the Izzatnagar police station and threatened to 'burn it down'.
Speaking to the media personnel hours later on the same day, SP (City) Bareilly, Ravindra Kumar said:
“Locals from Karampur Chaudhary village, who were around 200-250 in number, reached the chowki and misbehaved with the police.”Ravindra Kumar, SP (City), Bareilly
No Visual Evidence of Face-Off Between Police & Villagers
Kumar further said that “as a retaliatory measure the police went (back) to the village and arrested some persons for trying to hinder work of public servant and flouting sec 144”. Sec 144, that bars the assembly of more than four individuals in an area, has been imposed across UP following the nationwide lockdown announced on 24 March.
What's interesting to note is that there are no videos or photos available of the incident that triggered the violence, which is the very first interaction between the two policemen who had gone on a cheetah vehicle to Karampur Chaudhary village. Similarly, there are no visuals and/or photos available of the second face-off between 200-250 villagers and police personnel at the Izzatnagar police thana.
Videos Showing Police Roughing-Up Locals
Three videos from Bareilly, which were shot by locals, however, did make their way into the public domain. A Bareilly-based journalist has verified the authenticity of these videos to The Quint and confirmed that they were recorded on 6 April.
1) First Video: In one such video, two policemen can be seen chasing a local as he runs on the rooftop. At 00:05 secs, both policemen start beating him with lathis even as he sits on the rooftop with folded hands. In the entire video, which lasts for 40 secs, there is no visible resistance from any of the locals even as they are hauled up by the police.
2) Second Video: In another such video, which has been shot near the Izzatnagar thana, one policeman is seen beating a middle-aged man with his lathi as the sound of another policeman 'Chal chal andar chal (go inside the jail)' can be heard in the background. At 00:19 secs, three policemen surround another local and beat him as he's told to go inside the thana.
3) Two More Videos: In two more clips, two policemen are seen chasing a man wearing a purple kurta. Another set of policemen are seen going after a vehicle carrying LPG cylinders as they lash out at the driver, banging their lathis on the front glass before surrounding another local. The police later arrest three men from the nearby area.
4) Last Video: In a similar such video from Bareilly accessed by The Quint, at least five policemen are seen lathi-charging a man who again doesn't resist in any manner whatsoever.
Though the individual identity of the people who appear in these videos could not be established, the location where incident happened i.e. Karampur Chaudhary village is predominantly inhabited by Muslims.
Bareilly police, on its part, claims that one of their IPS officers, Abhishek Verma, sustained injuries in the incident.
What We Know About the Main Accused
Police identified Tassabar as one of the main accused and arrested 49 persons invoking various sections of the NSA (National Security Act). A case was registered against 150 unknown persons.
Tassabar happens to be a volunteer of the Samajwadi Party, though party leaders refused to admit any such political affiliation. Tassabar's wife, Shohra Begum, is the current Pradhan of Karampur Chaudhary village. Tassabar also happens to be a history-sheeter with criminal cases filed against him in 2009.
Was a Muslim-dominated village in Bareilly targeted by the police in the backdrop of recent row over Tablighi Jamaat meet in the national capital?
While addressing the media, SSP Bareilly, Abhishek Verma said:
“The police (from Izzatnagar thana), just like we are searching for Jamaat people across the country, was looking for (similar suspects) here. At the same time, the police was also trying to enforce the lockdown.”
The Bareilly police claims that local intelligence inputs had suggested that around 170 people from Delhi had entered the district. These 170 persons also included some of those who had participated at the Markaz event at Nizamuddin in March. However, in all the public statements made so far, no information has been given whether the police was actually able to nab any such attendee.
(With inputs from Manoj in Bareilly)
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