Video Producers: Maushmee Singh, Mayank Chawla
Video Editors: Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Sandeep Suman
(This story was first published on 16 August 2021 and is being republished from The Quint's archives to mark one year since the anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh came into effect.)
Yeh Jo India Hai Na, here whoever has seen this video, has been shocked, angered and saddened.
After watching this video of Afsaar Ahmed being assaulted by a mob in Kanpur even as his child pleaded for them to stop, a viewer named Aryan wrote – “Yeh kya kar rahe ho bhai?! Main bhi Hindu hoon yaar, Sri Ram Bhagwan ka naam aise lene ko mat kaho please! Mujhe dekhkar rona aa raha hai!” (What are you doing? I am a Hindu, too. Don't force someone to chant Sri Ram Bhagwan's name like this. This has brought me to tears.)
Mohammed Nadeem had this to say – “Kya Bajrang Dal kanoon se bada ho gaya hai?” (Is the Bajrang Dal bigger than the law?)
Also listen to what Neelushwar had to say – “Police ke saamne, uss masoom ko maar rahe aadmi ke liye police andhi ho gayi thi. Yeh Bharat aur Bharat-vaasiyon ka patan ho raha hai!” This police inaction is a sign of decay in India and among us Indians.
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LACKADAISICAL POLICE RESPONSE
There was massive public outrage when this shocking video went viral, and so the police did arrest 3 individuals allegedly involved in the assault. But, what about those policemen who watched as this atrocity played out?
Will any action be taken against those ‘protectors of the law’? The National Minorities Commission too, has asked the Kanpur Police Commissioner this question.
Taking action against these cops who stood by doing nothing is crucial – not just to provide justice for Afsaar Ahmed, but also for the dignity of our police in Uttar Pradesh, to remind them of their duty towards many like Afsaar Ahmed, who are now routinely being assaulted by lynch mobs across the state, with the police often observed to be just watching.
HATE CRIMES IN UTTAR PRADESH
A few days ago, the radical Hindu group – Kranti Sena – took the law into their own hands in Muzaffarnagar. On the occasion of Hariyali Teej they went around the market checking if anyone applying ‘mehndi’ on the hands of Hindu girls was a Muslim.
And any such person was stopped and harassed. Their so-called ‘abhiyaan’ was totally illegal, and yet the police did nothing.
Also, a few days ago, in Ballia, East UP, another radical Hindu group, the Karni Sena, harassed a Hindu woman and a Muslim man, who had gone to the court to get their marriage registered. On the court's premises, the woman was targeted, asked her age, her caste, why was she marrying a Muslim, why she was wearing a burqa... It was plain and simple gundagardi. And again, the UP police did nothing.
In November 2018 a mob was seen pulling a man out of a police van and beating him to death in Western UP's Shamli. The UP police, again, was a mute spectator.
In September 2018, members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, accused a youngster of ‘Love Jihad’ and mercilessly assaulted him. The UP Police was just watching.
RISING HINDUTVA VIGILANTISM
Karni Sena, Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Kranti Sena, Durga Vahini, Hindu Vahini – we’ve seen mobs belonging to all these groups in action, taking the law into their hands with zero fear of the law.
Even if someone is breaking the law, which is not the case in any of the examples we’ve seen in this video, what gives them the right to mete out street justice? Who is giving these groups the courage, the backing, to conduct their parallel policing? Why are the police’s hands tied? What has made the UP Police so impotent?
In 2020, Dilip Singh Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal leader from Kanpur threatened to kidnap Muslim women. But the police did nothing then. A year later, Dilip Singh Bajrangi continues to give hate speeches in public. The police has done nothing even now.
Now, take a look at this video – After three individuals were arrested by the police for assaulting Afsaar Ahmed, at midnight, members of the Bajrang Dal protested in front of the office of DCP Kanpur South, Raveena Tyagi, chanting Hanuman Chalisa, demanding their release.
And that’s exactly what happened. The three accused arrested in the light of day for assault, were quietly freed on bail in the dead of night. Yeh Jo India Hai Na, here, if the protectors of the law seem afraid of doing their job, simply watch as lynch mobs mete out street justice, or are even complicit with those who make hate speeches, then who do we have left, to turn to?