Kanpur administration may be busy in restoring normalcy in the city after the violent protests on 20th December, but regular course of life was altered forever, for Subhan (name changed) and his family.
The Uttar Pradesh Police may try to project itself as a people-friendly force, however, time and again they've faced criticism for their high-handedness, be it at the time of the death of Apple employee Vivek Tiwari in Lucknow, or the crackdown on anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill protesters, which has left a deep scar on Subhan and his family's mind.
Subhan, a teacher in a prominent school of the city, shivers as he narrates his ordeal to this reporter. He requests anonymity fearing retribution from cops for speaking to the media. It is worth noting here that the Kanpur Police has booked over 21,000 people in 15 FIRs lodged at various police stations across the city.
"I stay with my maternal grandparents. As usual, I was teaching kids on the eve of 21 December when I heard loud thuds. Out of curiosity, I went outside but was shocked to see police personnel destroying vehicles at a nearby distance. Fearing for security of my family members, I immediately asked my maternal uncle to close his shop and rushed towards my house which is at a stone's throw away from the shop."
Subhan lives in one of the narrow lanes of Beconganj area of Kanpur. His house is approximately one kilometre away from the place where protests were happening.
"We had nothing to do with the protests and everyone in our family was at home. One of my uncles was at his shop. After they'd destroyed vehicles, I saw policemen marching towards our lane and shouting har har Mahadev slogans. Sensing danger I left my balcony and locked the small wooden door of our house. After a few minutes of silence, the police began banging our door and kept saying 'bahar niklo Jinnah ki aulaadon aaj tumhe nahi chhodenge aur tumhari behno ko tho…. Aur nahi bakshenge' (come outside you sons of Jinnah, we won't spare you and rape your sisters)," said Subhan.
Subhan's uncle Iftekhar (name changed) said that he was so scared that he put a small wooden almirah against the door and sat on it. He did this to prevent the policemen from breaking open the door.
"They were constantly saying ‘tumhari behan biwiyon ko nahi chhodenge’ and we were really scared for their security. There are four women in my family including my mother who is very old. All our kids in the house were howling because they are too small to understand what was happening, all of them are less than 10-years-old. All they could figure out was that some people were trying to attack their family and they are still in a state of shock and two out of six children are suffering from high fever because they are too scared," said Iftekhar.
After failing to break open the door, the policemen vented their frustration on a deep freezer, which belonged to them and broke it with the gun’s butt. They also destroyed their two-wheeler which was parked outside.
"We didn’t sleep the entire night and kept sitting near the door. We feared that anytime the police will break open the door and attack us. The next day we left the house and shifted to another locality at a relative's place. We still haven't returned to our house and will only return after full normalcy is restored. My 75-year-old grandfather is under immense stress ever since then. He starts crying suddenly and keeps saying police will come and kill us someday. It is very difficult for us to convince him that everything is alright," added Subhan.
The similar fate was met by Ashfaq Rehmani (name changed) who is a businessman. His vehicles were parked outside his house when some policemen came and destroyed his three vehicles - Swift Dzire, Hyundai i10 and Tata Indigo.
Speaking to Firstpost, Rehmani said, "From my balcony I saw policemen firing bullets and vandalising public property. I didn't anticipate that they will enter into the nearby areas and destroy all the vehicles. I saw them breaking my cars, when I requested them to stop the rampage, they told me to go inside or else I'll be shot dead.
"I had nothing to do with the protest nor those whose vehicles were destroyed. The policemen broke whatever they saw on the roadside," added Rehmani.
Hilal who runs a confectionery shop was not only threatened but also looted allegedly by the policemen. The fridge at his shop was broken and all the items like soft drinks, chocolates and energy drinks were taken away by the policemen.
"My shop was open on 20 December as I had no idea that the police will leave the protest site and enter the narrow lanes to attack us. I saw people running but I had no time to shut the shop so I ran away to my house which is above my shop. I saw the policemen breaking my fridge and took away all the items from it. They also took pan masala and cigarettes from the shop. I hope strict action is taken against them," said Hilal.
When asked about the reports of police atrocities, Prem Prakash, ADG Kanpur Zone admitted that there have been instances of high-handedness from the police but he assured that the victims will get justice.
"Special Investigation Team (SIT) will be set up very soon which will look into the matter. It will investigate the role of both the protesters and police who engaged in unnecessary violence," he said. He also added that if required, a magisterial probe will also be initiated and those found guilty will be punished.
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Updated Date: Dec 28, 2019 15:32:12 IST