In the face of a police cover-up, the Hapur lynching survivor speaks up

15 July 2018
Nearly a month after the incident, the Hapur police have not taken a statement from Samiuddin—the survivor and only witness to Qasim’s murder.
Shahid Tantray for The Caravan

After about a month of treatment, the 64-year-old Mohammed Samiuddin, a resident of Madapur village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district, was discharged from a private hospital in Delhi on the morning of 14 July. Samiuddin had suffered grave injuries after a mob beat him up on 18 June, in the village Bajhera Khurd, located in the same district. Samiuddin had intervened as the mob attacked 50-year-old Qasim, on suspicion of cow slaughter. Qasim, a resident of Hapur’s Pilkhuwa town who worked as cattle trader and butcher, was murdered. The Hapur Police picked Samiuddin up from the site of the lynching in a half-conscious state. Videos of the brutal attacks were subsequently shared widely on social media.

Even 26 days after the incident, the Hapur police have not taken a statement from Samiuddin— the survivor and only witness to Qasim’s murder. The police filed a first information report against 25 unknown people from Bajhera Khurd, under sections 147, 148, 307, and 302—punishment for rioting, rioting with deadly weapon, attempt to murder and murder, respectively. They also arrested four men—Rakesh Sisodia, Yudhishtir Singh, Sonu and Kaptan, all Rajputs residing in Bajhera.

In a piece for The Caravan, its staff writer Sagar reported that the police was attempting to cover up the facts of the case. According to the FIR, the attack was the result of road rage. It recorded that Samauddin was hit by a motorcycle, which led to protests that turned into a fight involving 25 or 30 people. Various contradictions were evident in proceedings surrounding the the case—for instance, the diary entry at the police station, the first record by police procedure, contained no mention of an accident. Further, each person associated with the incident—including family members of the Bajhera residents who formed the attacking mob—described it as resulting from a suspicion of cow slaughter. Though the FIR contains the signature of Samiuddin's brother Yaseen, he later told The Caravan that he had not registered the complaint that led to the FIR. According to Yaseen, his friend Dinesh Tomar, a Rajpur resident of a nearby village, had lodged the complaint. Tomar told us that the circle office Pawan Kumar pressured him to present a false account in the FIR. These admissions appear not to have formed part of the police’s investigation. Many of the attackers, who were easily identifiable in the videos and whom Samiuddin was able to name, were not arrested. Singh was granted bail on 4 July, and Sisodia’s bail plea is scheduled for its next hearing on 19 July.

I met Samiuddin not long after he was discharged, along with Yaseen and Tomar. All of his limbs are bound in either a plaster or a cast, and there are wounds and fractures along his entire body. He is also recovering from a serious head injury. Seated on a wooden chair with his legs propped up on another, Samiuddin spoke patiently, taking short breaks to rest. “I want the accused to get maximum punishment, aur Qasim aur mujhe insaaf mile”—and Qasim and I get justice, he said.

Troubled by the police’s attempts to cover up the facts of the case, Samiuddin, his brother Yaseen and his friend Dinesh Tomar decided to send their statements to the police as soon as he was discharged from the hospital. They have couriered their statements to Ram Kumar, the inspector general of Meerut; Prashant Kumar, the additional director general of the police in Meerut; and Sankalp Sharma, the superintendent of police in Hapur. “I have learnt that the accused has been released on bail. By not placing the facts before the court, the police has helped the accused, and had not properly contended their bail appeal. Because they are hand-in-glove with the accused from Bajhera village,” Samiuddin said. “I have no faith in the investigation that is being carried out by the Pilkhuwa Police.”

Nileena MS is a reporting fellow with The Caravan. 

Keywords: cow slaughter lynching Hapur
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