A new fact-finding report into the sectarian violence in Kasganj has accused the local police of being biased against members of the Muslim community during the ongoing investigation into the sectarian clashes which ended up in the death of Chandan Gupta on January 26.
“The way the police investigation is going on also reflects clear bias and prejudice and that is acting as a deterrent for people to come forward and lodge individual cases of assault and damage,” the report, Trail of Engineered Hate and Violence: Findings from a visit to Kasganj, released on Monday, says.
The investigation further notes that the first FIR (59/2018) in the wake of the clashes on Jan 26 names all Muslims—Nasiruddin, Akram, Akshat Khan and Taufiq. “But not a single Hindu was named in the FIR, although the report mentions both communities were involved in the clash,” it adds.
The fact-finding team, under the banner of United Against Hate, from Lucknow and Delhi visited Kasganj on February 2. Former Uttar Pradesh Police IG SR Darapuri, social activist Rakhi Sehgal, former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) President Mohit Pandey and United Against Hate members were part of the team among others.
Besides two mosques, the report highlighted that all 27 business establishments that were set on fire belonged to Muslims. “No temple or Hindu property has been damaged,” it says.
“In fact, the Chamunda Temple, located in a Muslim-dominated area, was protected by Muslims of the area. There is an HP gas agency located behind the Chamunda Temple, and the Muslims protected that too,” the nine-page document adds.
“Despite Muslim-owned establishments being in the line of fire of rampaging mobs, there was no police presence in predominantly Hindu localities. On the other hand, cops are manning Muslim neighbourhoods day in, day out,” the report says.
The finding alleges the police had filed just one complaint for all the cases of fire and attack on Muslim shops and properties. “They are refusing to file individual reports about each incident and trying to club everything into one case.”
The report further raises questions on police’s claim that Chandan Gupta was shot dead by a local trader Salim, who has been arrested in connection with Chandan’s murder.
“There are photos of Salim participating in a Republic Day celebration at 9:30 am at Ch. Mehdi Hasan School on Mulka Road. He left from there to collect his kids from school as soon as the news came of the confrontation at Abdul Hamid Chowk. So, he was not at the scene of the original confrontation, reportedly. Hence, locals argue, he had no run-in with Chandan and the group,” it says.
Chandan, on the other hand, had a bad reputation and had even been to jail just three months ago, it has been revealed.
The report further highlights that it is “serious contravention of law” to use the statement of a person in custody to implicate others, as has been the case in Kasganj.
“Case number 65 is solely built upon the so-called versions of Mohsin (who is under custody) and with that, the police is trying to justify that the Muslims did fire bullets in self-defence, which hit Chandan and Naushad.”
Nadeem Khan from United Against Hate said that despite the police recovering nearly 50 bikes from Badoo Nagar locality, they were refusing to identify the owners of the vehicles, which were left behind by the group of which Chandan was a part.
“The fact that 87 of the 123 arrested over the violence so far belong to the minority community speaks in itself about the way the police are going about the investigation. Also, the bond for bail has been set at Rs 2 lakh, which is unaffordable for a working-class person,” Khan said.
The entire report can be read below: