Video Editor: Deepthi Ramadas
"The police fired gunshots. Apart from the policemen, nobody else fired gunshots. I only want justice for my son."
"We are helpless at the moment. We are in a lot of trouble. We can't even share our problems with anyone. Only my Allah knows how distressed we are. I miss my son all the time."
It has been a little over a year since the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) was passed. A year since the nationwide anti-CAA protests, The Quint's Shadab Moizee travelled to Uttar Pradesh's Firozabad which witnessed anti-CAA and anti-NRC agitation too.
A year later, common people are still bearing the brunt of the protests that turned violent on 20 December 2019, in Firozabad.
The Quint spoke to the families of three of the seven people killed in alleged police firing during anti-CAA protests, and are still awaiting justice. Some claim that the police filed FIRs as per their wish; some allege they are being pressurised to close the case – charges that the Firozabad Police denied.
'Police Killed Shafiq, Pressurising Us to Close the Case'
Forthy-two-year-old Mohammed Shafiq was killed when anti-CAA protests in the city turned violent on 20 December 2019. His family alleges, he was killed in the police firing. "The police was firing at anti-CAA protesters. When my brother left home, he was shot in the head," Shafiq's brother Nisar told The Quint.
Shafiq's mother Bilkis told The Quint how the police has been harassing her family and threatening them to close the case.
“Senior police officials come and tell us to take decisions sooner. They threaten my children. I tell my children to stay away. I have asked them to tell the police that I will continue to fight the case. I am even offered lakhs. But I want justice, not money. My husband was a labourer. I brought up my children in severe poverty and amid a lot of hardship. And now I have lost my son. I want justice.”Bilkis, Late Shafiq’s Mother
'Police Called Harun's Killing an "Accident" and Dictated the FIR'
Like Shafiq, 26-year-old Harun, too, was killed when anti-CAA protests turned violent in Firozabad on 20 December 2019. Recalling what unfolded on that day to The Quint, Harun's mother Naeema Begum broke down. "He was returning home after selling cattle. He was accidentally returning via the protest site. He was killed in firing," she said.
Harun's brother-in-law alleged that the post-mortem report showed that Harun was killed due to a bullet injury. But the police claimed it was an accident and dictated the FIR.
“When we went to file the FIR, the police did not write what we narrated to them. We told the police that he was only returning home, after selling cattle. And that he was shot in the police firing during the protests. But the police did not write that in the FIR. They said that it was an accident. They wrote what they wished, in the FIR. A year has passed since Harun’s death. No senior official or minister even bothered to check if we have got justice. We want those who killed Harun to be punished. The post-mortem report shows he was shot. But it doesn’t mention the details of the bullet. They didn’t show the bullet at all. Else, it would have been clear who shot Harun.”Mohammad, Late Harun’s Brother-in-law
Abrar's Family Fears They Could Be in Deeper Trouble for Speaking to the Media
Tazammul, mother of 25-year-old Abrar, who died 25 days after he was shot in alleged police firing on 20 December, 2019, is scared that her family could be deeper trouble if they spoke to the media. Narrating their ordeal, she told The Quint, "We are already in a lot of trouble. We are helpless. Only my Allah knows how distressed we are. There is no hearing in the case. Pray to Allah that nobody faces the kind of trouble that we are going through."
Abrar's father told The Quint how his son died 25 days after he was shot because his bullet wasn't taken out and how he has to repay loans worth lakhs, taken for his son's treatment. "I spent Rs 7,50,000 for my son's treatment. I paid Rs 5,70,000. The rest of the money had to be borrowed. Still, I could not save my son," he added.
“He was shot in the back. Abrar called me to say that he was (caught) in a police firing, on his way to work. We somehow rushed him to the hospital. But they didn’t admit him. Then, we took him to Agra. Some good samaritans helped admit my son to GG hospital. He was there for 2 to 3 days, but his bullet wasn’t taken out. We then took him to Delhi’s Apollo hospital. He underwent an operation there, but his bullet was still not taken out. We brought him home when he was released after 23 days. Two days later, he passed away. Now the police is harassing us and asking us to decide what we want to do now.”Ehjaz, Late Abrar’s Father
'Police Framing the Innocent, Independent SIT Must Probe the Matter'
Petitioner Asad Hayat alleged that the police is harassing and framing innocent youth of Firozabad and so, there is an atmosphere of fear. "(The) Police has filed a charge sheet against innocent Muslims. The charge sheet claims that these innocent Muslims were rioters and that they fired gunshots. The deceased were killed in firing by rioters. The police’s FIR mentions that Muslims were injured in firing by rioters and the same rioters also took the injured to the hospital. The police have denied that the deceased were killed in police firing," he told The Quint.
“All of them had fire-arm injury. The victims were shot in the neck, head, chest, and stomach. There should be a judicial inquiry into the matter. An independent SIT, which is not influenced by the police, must be formed. There is an atmosphere of fear. People are scared to give their statements. An independent inquiry would ensure witnesses can give their statements without fear. A writ petition is pending in the Allahabad High Court in this regard. But nothing has come of it so far. There hasn’t been a proper hearing amid COVID pandemic.”Asad Hayat, Petitioner
'Charges Against Us False, Investigation is Underway': Police
The Firozabad Police has denied charges of:
- Police firing
- Harassment of the families of the deceased
Speaking to The Quint, Firozabad SP Ajay Kumar said, "Death in police firing is not mentioned in any FIR so far. The charge sheet in the case is yet to be filed. Investigation is still underway. The allegations against the police are false. An SIT has been formed to investigate the matter. The SIT probe is underway. Senior officials are reviewing all possible angles."