Over a year since five Muslim men were killed in Meerut on a single day, allegedly from police firing during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019, the Uttar Pradesh police is yet to lodge first information reports against repeated complaints by the deceased men’s families. Through the year, the family members of the deceased have regularly filed formal complaints with the highest levels of the Uttar Pradesh police and senior members of the Meerut administration, naming dozens of police personnel as responsible for their relatives’ deaths. Citing eyewitness accounts, the complainants write that on 20 December 2019, the police opened “andhadun,” or indiscriminate firing on anti-CAA protesters “with the intention of causing death.” Their relatives died from this firing, the families state, adding that the men were not among the protesters but just bystanders.
The police later claimed that four other FIRs registered by the Meerut police were related to the five deaths. But none of these FIRs recorded the accusations of the families—none of them recorded any police firing at all, despite the family’s complaints. Further, the police has claimed its investigation revealed that the men were killed by protesters who opened fire on the police. The family members of nearly all the men have written in their complaints that the police has continuously threatened and intimidated them, in an attempt to have them withdraw their statements. The UP police did not respond to detailed queries regarding the complaints.
The five men who were killed in Meerut—a dhaba-worker named Aleem Ansari, a scrap dealer named Mohsin, a cattle-fodder trader named Zaheer, an e-rickshaw puller named Mohammed Asif, and a tyre-repairman named Asif Khan—were sole breadwinners of poor families. They all faced grievous bullet injuries between 2 pm and 6 pm on 20 December, and eventually died the same day.
Family members of several of the men noted that they filed complaints with the relevant police stations on the day of the incident, but that the police ignored these. Four men’s families have approached magistrates’ courts seeking orders for an FIR against the police, but their pleas were either rejected or are yet to be heard. In the past year, relatives of Mohsin, Aleem, Mohammed Asif and Zaheer have approached the senior superintendent of the police in Meerut, the inspector general of police in Meerut, the district magistrate of Meerut and the director general of the Uttar Pradesh police. Mohammed Asif’s father also approached the National Minorities Commission, which closed his complaint after receiving a police reply claiming that protesters shot Asif.
In 2019, twenty-two Muslims, including a 7-year-old, lost their lives in Uttar Pradesh within just two days—20 and 21 December—in the anti-CAA protests, primarily in Meerut, Kanpur, Firozabad, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnor and Varanasi. A public-interest litigation demanding an investigation into police excesses and the deaths in UP is pending before the Allahabad High Court, but no hearings have taken place since February 2020. Upon directions from the court, in February, the UP police had submitted hundreds of pages summarising its investigation into the 22 deaths. It denied any wrongdoing in its reply to the court, claiming that “no one lost his life due to police action.”