Police using coercive methods to pressurise riot victims to withdraw FIRs

Muzaffarnagar: Four months after the riots that broke on September 7, Uttar Pradesh police has failed to arrest a single perpetrator, although in most of the cases, accused were from same village and neighbours and hence identified with names.

Over 6000 persons have been named as accused, but so far only 294 people have been arrested. Shockingly most of them are living freely in their villages, without any fear of police, although cases include serious offenses of rapes, murder, arson, rioting, etc. Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the riots, however, today issued arrest orders against 22 accused in six riot cases.

But it seems that the government is retorting to coercive methods to force victims of the riots withdraw cases. Police appears to be protecting the perpetrators of the riots, more than the victims.

One of the most affected villages was Fugana where over 400 cases have been registered. Most of the complainants are, however, living in different relief camps and are too scared to even visit their village. They, however, get calls repeatedly by police to come to the police station for ‘investigation,’ and often they are asked to narrate the incident and testify, in front of the perpetrators.

30 year old Mustaqeem from Fugana, says that his statement has been recorded at least four times at the Fugana Police Station, but still police keeps calling him to be present. His wife was gang raped during the riots by several men. She identified four men – Pushpendra, Rupesh, Sanjeev and Ramvir among many others. None of them has been arrested although they all are apparently living in villages.

He alleges that police keeps asking him derogatory questions from him, often when in presence of perpetrators.

He was living in Loi camp till a week ago and few days ago shifted to Neem Kheri, but today seems to have no place to go now as that camp too has been closed today. On Tuesday evening when he had resisted police against eviction, he was even beaten up by police.

Mustaqeem also alleged that the accused have been threatening him to withdraw cases.

Similar is the story of Naseem Ahmad, whose wife too was gang-raped and who too have been getting threats and is being pressurised to withdraw cases.

Another resident of Fugana, 45 year old Nasedin too has filed an FIR naming Renu, Anil, Pushpendra and Satpal as accused. He too has been reportedly called several times by police and is getting threats from accused.

Police calls and repeatedly ask the complainants to testify in front of the accused and if they fumble or feel ashamed to answer to derogatory questions, police allegedly threaten them to withdraw cases. Although there is no confirmation, but there are reports that several complaints have been withdrawn.

Fugana SHO KP Sharma did confirm that accused too were called for “cross-examinations,” but had no explanation as to why they have been not arrested so far, although charges against them are of serious nature.

The victims of the September riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli have maintained that they have lost all faith and trust and at no cost will they go back to their ancestral villages, even though it means losing properties and land there. One main reason for their fear is that none of the perpetrators in riot cases have been registered so far.

Uttar Pradesh Government has been maintaining all along that the victims should go back to their villages and hence they want all camps to be closed soon. Some of the Muslim organisations too have been supportive of the government on this. Samajwadi party Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav went on to suggest that the inhabitants of refugee camps are agents of the BJP and Congress.

However, when the perpetrators of the riots, most of whom were neighbours, are roaming freely and living in same villages, it is indeed difficult for the victims to go back. State government has failed completely in confidence building measures in the aftermath of the riots. Even four months after the riot, there is hardly any action onto hundreds of cases of serious charges like rapes, murder and burning houses and properties, etc.

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