The police in Muzaffarnagar has been accused of playing a partisan role in favour of a particular community, which led to communal violence spreading in the region after the 27 August incidents in Kawal village in which two Jats and one Muslim were killed. That impression is refusing to die down even as the police has now begun investigations into the riots that caused mayhem for three days from 7 to 9 September.
So far, the police has registered 203 FIRs related to the communal riots in which 52 people were killed and nearly 50,000 rendered homeless. The FIRs name around 600-700 people, who have been accused of various offences under IPC sections relating to murder, rape, rioting, loot, provocation to cause riot, damaging property and unlawful assembly. Besides 52 cases of murder, there are five cases of gangrape, three of molestation and 10 of missing persons.
Around 150 of the accused have been arrested so far, according to information with the Muzaffarnagar Senior Superintendent of Police’s office. Another 700-800 “unnamed persons” have also been accused in these cases.
After filing a few cases initially during 7-9 September, the police is now sifting through hundreds of complaints received from the riot victims and their families staying in several relief camps across the district. The number of FIRs is hence likely to rise sharply.
As many as 110 people have been named in a single FIR for eight murders in Kutwa village under Shahpur Police Station, while 95 people have been made accused in an FIR for rioting and setting houses of Muslims on fire at Lisarh village under Fugana Police Station.
The local police is facing scathing criticism from residents of several Jat and Hindu-dominated villages under Fugana Police Station, where hundreds of Jat youths have been named in the FIRs. Villagers have been holding mass protests and accusing the police of taking action against one community only. They are even alleging that the names in the FIRs have been drawn from the area’s voter lists. “Several village youths who do not even live here as they work elsewhere, including in the army and the police, have been named in the FIRs,” alleges Narendra Singh, an elderly Jat at Lisarh village.
In the neighbouring Bahawadi village, too, hundreds of Jats are in hiding or have left their homes fearing arrests. “There should be a CBI inquiry into the arrest of my husband, who was with me when there was violence in the Muslim mohalla of the village,” says Savita Singh, whose husband Deepak Singh is behind bars for rioting.
Many women from these villages complain that men from almost every household have been named in the FIRs. As the men are in hiding, there is no one to work in the fields or tend to the cattle, they say.
Several local Khap leaders and political leaders belonging to the Hindu community have been camping in the villages. They have threatened to launch widespread protests if the names of “unfairly implicated” youths are not removed from the FIRs.
Three FIRs for gangrape were registered at the Fugana Police Station, but none of the 17 accused have been arrested so far, says SHO KP Sharma. “The cases are being investigated by the Special Investigation Cell (SIC) and we will act once they submit their report,” he says. The SIC constituted after the riots comprises two additional superintendents of police, two deputy superintendents of police and 40 inspectors.
Additional DSP (SIC) Manoj Jha says the FIRs have been handed over to the investigating officers and the probe is being conducted under the supervision of senior officials.