A fact-finding report on the communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj on January 26 has implicated the police for being biased against Muslims and shielding some of the accused, many of who are from the majority community.
The report, released by People’s Collective, raises concerns over the loopholes in the police investigations. It mentions several vital eyewitness accounts which have been ignored, or not even placed on record.
According to the fact-finding report, Balbeer Singh, a constable, had on January 29, named three Hindus from the rally – Anukalp Chauhan, Vishal Thakur and Saurabh Pal. Another constable, Ajay Pal, had identiﬁed Chauhan as the rally’s organiser.
On February 7, two brothers of Chandan's alleged shooter, Salim, were arrested. They, too, named Chauhan, Thakur and Pal of being in the motorcycle cavalcade that took out the ‘tiranga march’.
On February 9, eleven days after Constables Singh and Pal named the three Hindu men, Sub-Inspector Mohar Singh Tomar, the investigating officer, wrote in the case diary that he visited their homes but found that they had been absconding since January 26
On February 9, Chandan Gupta’s (who was killed during the violence) brother, Vivek, told Sub-Inspector Tomar that he, too, had been in the rally. Vivek conﬁrmed that Chauhan, Thakur and Pal were in the rally.
Writing in the case diary that day, Tomar acknowledged evidence against the three.
On February 12, Tomar asked the court for non-bailable warrants against them and to declare them absconders under Section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrRC). But the court didn’t issue any non-bailable warrants at the time.
Tomar did not persevere. The police later arrested two more Muslims, taking the total number of Muslim arrested to 21. No Hindu were arrested until the end of March — two months after the violence.
On March 28, the police arrested seven Hindus. Only one had been previously named: Vishal Thakur. Thakur named several Hindu co-rioters, including Chauhan and Pal. The police made no eﬀort to arrest them. Thakur also named three Muslims. They were arrested within hours.
Anukalp Chauhan surrendered on April 9. He sought bail the very next day. “Chief Judicial Magistrate Netrapal Singh readily obliged him,” states the fact-finding report.
According to an eyewitness, Aleem, who had been chatting with a neighbour on the Republic Day when he saw 25-30 slogan-shouting youth armed with bottles of petrol set the mosque on ﬁre. Aleem’s neighbour had confirmed his claim. But Investigating Mohar Singh Tomar never investigated it.
On February 8, Shakira Begum, the mother of Salim, wrote to SHO Singh, alleging, after Chandan's funeral on January 27, several Hindus had broken into her home, ransacked it and robbed it of valuables. She named 25 attackers, including Thakur and Chauhan.
She sent copies of her letter to Adityanath; UP governor Ram Naik, a former BJP leader; and the Director-General of Police, among others. It fetched no response. The police did not call her or the two eyewitnesses to the attack she named in her letter to record statements.
On March 13, Shami Akhtar, a Muslim resident of the area, moved the CJM’s court seeking an FIR against against 44 Hindus for the violence.
These 44 names included the names of Chandan and Vivek Gupta, as also of Chauhan and Thakur. At least 21 of these 44 names were also among the 25 who Shakira Begum had named in her letter of February 8.
The CJM ordered the police to include his complaint in their FIR and investigate it. But the police did neither.
The investigating officer also didn’t pay any heed to the statement of two Hindu shopkeepers, that they didn’t recognise the people involved in vandalism. The report suggests that they were “outsiders,” and not “local Muslims.” But, Mohar Singh didn’t investigate the vandals.
Not only this, the three accused arrested in connection with Tehsil Road violence have a solid alibi.
Waseem, who continues to be in jail, was at Hathras City, which is 60 km west of Kasganj, on the day of the incident. Waseem is the brother of Chandan’s alleged shooter Salim.
Waseem had left Kasganj the previous night (Jan 25), as part of a religious group on a tour of piety. The group stayed in Hathras for two continuous nights.
Around 10 witnesses have given police statements to this eﬀect under oath on notarised stamp papers. They have said there is a video from that sojourn that proves that Waseem was indeed in Hathras.
Despite all this, police has refused to take their statements on record, or call for the video, leave alone name them as witnesses, says the report.
Another accused, Zahid alias Jagga, was away in Lucknow, 330km to the east of Kasganj, on January 26. Jagga, too, had went to Lucknow on the previous day with a Hindu friend to secure the release of the friend’s car that Lucknow Police had confiscated earlier.
CCTV footage from a police station in Lucknow where the two men had gone to get their car back shows that Jagga had visited there at about 8.30 am on January 26.
A third accused, Asim Qureshi, was in Aligarh, about 70km west of Kasganj, around the time violence sparked in Kasganj. CCTV footage from Aligarh, too, establishes his presence in Aligarh.
“Six months later, Waseem and Jagga continue to be in jail. After the Allahabad High Court bailed Waseem on August 6, he was booked under National Security Act on the same day,” notes the report.