The Uttar Pradesh Police said that a first information report was filed against six police officers, including the former Nehtaur station house officer, over the death of a 20-year-old man’s death in Bijnor district during anti-Citizenship Act protests on December 20, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. Four days after the incident, the police had claimed that a constable shot Mohammad Suleman in “self-defence” during the protests.
Nehtaur Police Station House Officer Satya Prakash Singh said that the FIR named Rajesh Singh Solanki, the former SHO, local outpost in-charge Ashish Tomar, constable Mohit Kumar, and three unidentified officers. The report, filed by Suleman’s brother Shoaib, was registered under sections 147 (rioting), 302 (murder), 148 (rioting, armed, armed with deadly weapon), and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object). Solanki was transferred to the District Crime Record Bureau, Singh said.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh said the investigation on the deaths during the protests against the amended Citizenship Act was under way. “They [injuries on the dead bodies] could also be of the illegal weapons used by the agitators,” he told India Today.
OP Singh said the police had opened fire in some places like Bijnor and Kanpur with “permission from a magistrate”. The police also used a “minimum level of force like tear gas shells and lath-charge”, he claimed.
The police had initially claimed that they had not fired even a single bullet at protestors – until figures confirmed by some officials to The Indian Express showed that at least 14 people killed during clashes in parts of the state since December 19 had succumbed to “firearm injuries”. Suleman was one of them.
“One cartridge was retrieved from Suleman’s body,” Bijnor Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Tyagi had admitted last week. “The ballistic report confirms that this was shot from the service pistol of Mohit Kumar. Mohit Kumar also suffered a bullet injury. The bullet taken from Mohit Kumar’s stomach was found to be shot from a country-made weapon.”
According to an initial report by the police, a mob snatched a sub-inspector’s service pistol during the protest. Some policemen, including Kumar, then chased the group. Suleman opened fire with his country-made pistol when Kumar got close to him, Tyagi claimed. “In reply, Mohit also fired from his service pistol and the bullet hit Suleman’s stomach,” he added.
However, the police neither found any weapon on Suleman nor did they recover the sub-inspector’s service pistol. Suleman studied in Noida but was in Nehtaur because he had fever. His family claimed he was picked up by the police while he was returning from a mosque. His sisters told Scroll.in that he was a hard-working student who used to stay up all night to prepare for the Civil Services Exam. The police took him into a lane and shot him, the family alleged.
At least 26 people have died in the protests – 19 of them in Uttar Pradesh. The police have been accused of using excessive force to deal with the demonstrators. On Wednesday, HuffPost India reported that the police in Bijnor had detained at least five minors last week, and tortured them for 48 hours.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised as being discriminatory for excluding Muslims.