Anti-CAA protests: In Bihar's Aurangabad, police file chargesheet against 'rioters', drop five names due to lack of evidence

While the Aurangabad Police have dropped five accused from the charge sheet, they have added three more based on photo evidence,

Parth MN March 08, 2020 18:36:19 IST
Anti-CAA protests: In Bihar's Aurangabad, police file chargesheet against 'rioters', drop five names due to lack of evidence
  • The Aurangabad Police in the state of Bihar have filed a chargesheet against alleged rioters for turning peaceful protests violent by indulging in stone-pelting.

  • The police have not found any evidence against five, said Meraj Khan, lawyer representing the accused.

  • The five people include two men and three women.

The Aurangabad Police in the state of Bihar have filed a chargesheet against alleged rioters for turning peaceful protests violent by indulging in stone-pelting. Of the 46 arrested on the day the unrest broke out in Aurangabad, the police have not found any evidence against five, said Meraj Khan, lawyer representing the accused. Firstpost had reported how there were several contradictions between claims made in the FIR and the police diary.

The five people include two men and three women. Shams Waris, one of the two men, was actually inside a court securing his bail in another case when the rioting transpired. The second man, Shahbaz Nawab, a local trader at a jewellery store, was arrested from a terrace along with five other "culprits", according to the FIR.

But the police diary, which contradicts the police FIR, claimed that rioters had began pelting stones in his lane when Shahbaz was trying to get home. To avoid the police, he ran towards the rioters, where he fell and injured himself. The diary, in fact, quoted an eyewitness and said that Shahbaz took a few blows from the stone pelting.

AntiCAA protests In Bihars Aurangabad police file chargesheet against rioters drop five names due to lack of evidence

Sajid, the brother of Shahbaz Nawab. Shahbaz is one of five people against whom the Aurangabad Police failed to find any evidence in connection with violence during anti-CAA protests. Parth MN

However, there is a video of Shahbaz being brutally beaten up by the police who have cornered him against a shuttered shop. The video shows Shahbaz miserably failing at warding off several men in uniform beating him with lathis.

His brother, Sajid, said he is relieved that Shahbaz is finally home. “He has a wife and an eight-month-old son,” he said. “He even started working to get back to normalcy. We hope to put it behind us and resume our ordinary lives.”

Haseena Khatoon, however, is angrier. She was picked up from a function along with two other women and 10 other men. They were attending an engagement ceremony at a family friend’s home in Qureshi Mohalla. “We cried endlessly but the police did not stop beating us,” she said in a telephonic interview. “We told them we have not seen anything. We told them to have mercy. But they did not listen.”

The police, she said, first took them to Jama Masjid, clicked their photo and then took them to the police station. “We were scared,” said Khatoon. “They had already broken someone’s arm or someone’s leg. So we did not say much at the police station.”

Khatoon's name, along with those of two other women, has been dropped from the chargesheet, as the police could not find evidence of their involvement.

On 21 December 2019, the town of Aurangabad in Bihar had observed a protest at Ramesh Chowk against the amended citizenship law. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and its allies had called for a bandh to rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). But towards the end, the peaceful protest turned violent. Following the unrest, the police began raiding localities which were predominantly Muslim around the protest site to identify these "miscreants". They arrested 46 people on that day.

While the police have dropped five accused from the chargesheet, they have added three more based on photo evidence, which makes it a case against 44 people. “Out of those, 13 were said to be minors, but one of them has turned out to be an adult after his medical examination,” said Khan. “All the minors are out on bail. And 18 of the adults have also received bail.”

Among the 18 released on bail is Sikandar Hayat, local councillor, and main accused behind the riots. Upon being asked about the treatment meted out to him in jail, he said, “Jail is jail, that is what I will say.”

The FIR accuses him of leading a mob, and triggering riots against the police. The first page of the FIR claims when the bandh ended at around 12.15 pm, a mob of 200, led by Hayat, emerged at the scene. "The mob started beating up shopkeepers near a book store, asking them to shut shop," the FIR notes. "When police tried to intervene, the mob chanted slogans against them and started throwing bricks and stones. A brick landed on a policeman's head, and he got seriously injured. Hayat was egging the protesters on."

The FIR further adds that the police tried its best to convince the mob not to indulge in stone-pelting, but the mob continued with the attacks, at which point the police used force and arrested five troublemakers. One of them was Hayat.

Interestingly, a few pages later the same FIR notes that Hayat was 'arrested' again while jumping off a roof along with a few others who were indulging in stone-pelting.

Anup Kumar, SDPO, Aurangabad, did not respond to phone calls. And when this reporter met him in the second week of February, he refused to comment on the details of the investigation.

However, Hayat, in a telephonic interview, said the FIR is “100 percent wrong”.

He said, “When I realised that there was unrest, I stepped out to see what was happening. Qureshi mohalla, where I live, was quiet then. I told people in my mohalla to get back in to their homes so there won’t be any problem. I was ensuring that things don’t blow up in my locality.”

After getting people to get back into their homes, Hayat returned to his place, and stood by the door. “That is when the police emerged and picked me up,” he said. “The police have claimed I did a lot of things in the FIR. I am sure they do not have any proof. Not one photo or video.”

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