‘UP Police Cheating Us’: Lawyer of Boy Killed in Anti-CAA Protests
Suleiman, 20, was shot dead in police firing in western Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district during the anti-CAA protests after Friday prayers on 20 December.
Suleiman, 20, was shot dead in police firing in western Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district during the anti-CAA protests after Friday prayers on 20 December.(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

‘UP Police Cheating Us’: Lawyer of Boy Killed in Anti-CAA Protests

Despite accepting that Suleiman died in defensive firing by policemen and the family approaching the cops with a written complaint on 28 December, the Uttar Pradesh police has refused to file a separate FIR in the case.

Suleiman, 20, was shot dead in police firing in western Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district during the anti-CAA protests after Friday prayers on 20 December.
A photo of Suleiman provided by his elder brother Shoaib Malik, who is the complainant in the case.
A photo of Suleiman provided by his elder brother Shoaib Malik, who is the complainant in the case.
(Photo: The Quint)

While the police has tried to justify why they clubbed Suleiman’s death with other offences committed by the rioters, criminal and human rights lawyers The Quint reached out to flatly denied any rationale offered to explain the police’s resistance to filing a separate FIR, adding that this could affect the investigation in the case.

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HOW DID SULEIMAN DIE?

The compound of Suleiman’s home, which  he left on 20 December. His mother says she asked him to stay back and eat, but he did not listen.
The compound of Suleiman’s home, which he left on 20 December. His mother says she asked him to stay back and eat, but he did not listen.
(Photo: Aishwarya S Iyer/The Quint)

There are two versions.

While the police has maintained since 21 December (a day after the riots) that Suleiman died after a constable named Mohit killed him in self defence, the family believes he was cornered, taken to a bylane and killed to instill fear and terror in the minds of the protesters.

Suleiman was a UPSC aspirant, and followed a neatly laid out timetable. His family claims he had stepped out for namaz, as he would each day at 1:20 pm, and never returned.

WHY POLICE NOT FILING A SEPARATE FIR?

Suleiman’s things scattered around the house. They include a  watch that his aunt bought him but he had not worn yet.
Suleiman’s things scattered around the house. They include a watch that his aunt bought him but he had not worn yet.
(Photo: Aishwarya S Iyer/The Quint)

Suleiman’s death has been clubbed with various other instances of rioting, damage to public property, unlawful assembly etc.

Speaking to The Quint, Superintendent of Police Vishwajeet Srivastava Bijnor (rural) confirmed the same: “Suleiman’s death has already been mentioned in an FIR from the violent protests of 20 December. One event cannot have two separate FIRs. It has been clubbed with the various other offences that were committed by the protesters, including causing damage to public property, rioting, unlawful assembly etc. The police continues to state that the protester attacked a police constable and was killed in self defence.”

When pushed further, Srivastava said: “We have forwarded their written application. That is all that can be done right now. Another FIR cannot be registered.”

LAWYERS SAY SEPARATE FIR IS NEEDED

Speaking to The Quint, Suleiman’s family’s lawyer Afzal said: “Ye police humein abhi bhi dhoka de rahi hai (The police is still cheating us). Police officers Ashish Tomar, Rajesh Solani, Mohit Sharma and three others picked Suleiman up, took off his clothes and shot him. We have eyewitnesses – Hindus and Muslims – to corroborate all of this. When there is a procedure involved, how can the police blatantly not follow it?”

Adding to how this will prejudice the investigation against Suleiman’s family, Afzal said: “In this case, police has their version and we have ours. But because ours is not being accepted in the FIR, we will be the accused in the case. Here the murderers, who are the police, are behaving like they are the victims. We are being seen as the accused along with the other people who have been arrested for rioting etc. How is this justice?”

Senior criminal lawyer Satish Tamta reiterated the need for a separate FIR. "When there is a homicidal death, the police always files a separate case. This death has happened using a firearm and in no way is it an accidental death. A separate charge sheet must be filed in this case which will only happen if there is a separate FIR,” he said.

Suleiman’s room in his Bijnor residence. A UPSC aspirant, he used to spend most of his time studying here.
Suleiman’s room in his Bijnor residence. A UPSC aspirant, he used to spend most of his time studying here.
(Photo: Aishwarya S Iyer/The Quint)

Adding that the police’s argument of self defence is only their version, Tamta said: “No one is given a clean chit just because it is self defence. It is only the police's version. They have to register a case and then the different versions are taken into account... and it has to be sent to court. They are clubbing all these offences by saying they happened during the riot. This is wrong."

Adding to this, Aman Khan from Human Rights Law Network said: “The current FIR is only against the rioters. There has to be a separate FIR against the policemen as this has a different narrative and the accused are different. They cannot club it with other offences.”

Abhinav Sekhri, a lawyer practising in Delhi, said: “The police will need to register FIR separately for his death if they have already accepted that it was the result of police firing. The allegation is that this is a separate offence. The existing FIR is on a narrative of unruly mobs vandalising property. But the family narrative here is that the police fired without cause.”

Afzal tells us how they will move the district court and then the Allahabad High Court if the police does not file an FIR. “We are waiting currently for the court to open on 2 January. If not, we will protest and approach the high court for a proper inquiry into the case.”

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