Adityanath’s Police Raj

Widespread fear in Nehtaur as police defends two killings and a militia-led rampage

27 December 2019
The family of Anas, a 21-year-old who was shot by the UP police a few metres from his home in Nehtaur, on 20 December.
Ishan Tankha
The family of Anas, a 21-year-old who was shot by the UP police a few metres from his home in Nehtaur, on 20 December.
Ishan Tankha

It was a Friday and 21-year-old Anas had promised to meet his uncle, Musharraf Hussain, who was only a few years older to him, for lunch that day. Anas had shifted to Delhi after his marriage a year and half earlier, and worked there as a beverage supplier. He had returned a few days earlier to Nehtaur, his native village—located about thirty-five kilometres away from the Bijnor district headquarters in Uttar Pradesh—with his wife and eight-month-old baby. He was staying with his wife’s parents, in a locality named Ghas Mandi. Sometime between 2 and 3 pm, he was about to leave for Hussain’s home, which was right next door, when he realised the baby was hungry and needed to be fed. Another of Anas’s uncles, whom he called tai abbu— father’s elder brother—ran a dairy barely one hundred yards away.

Anas’s father, Arshad Hussain, who works as tailor in Jalandhar, was also staying at Musharraf’s home. It was a family union for the Hussains at the end of the year. The two homes were located in an alley that opened to a lane in the colony, with shops on either side. While Anas was walking through the alley, his father told him not to leave home as the market was closed. But Anas said he just needed milk and would get it from his tai abbu’s shop.

As soon as he stepped out on the road from the alley, a bullet hit him in his eye. Anas fell on the ground, bleeding profusely. Uttar Pradesh police personnel had been stationed since morning, at one end of the road, around two hundred metres from where Anas lay, since morning. The bullet came from that direction. Anas died not long after.

The same day, the police shot another man from Ghas Mandi, while he was coming out from a mosque after offering namaz. Mohammed Suleman, aged 20, was shot at close range, in his chest.

In the days preceding that Friday, protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act had intensified across the country, including in Delhi. Bijnor was among several districts in Uttar Pradesh where people had closed their shops in protest against the act. In villages such as Nagina and Sherkot, people also came to the streets to lodge their protest. In Nehtaur, though, residents told me, there was no call for any procession. People had simply kept their shops shut in solidarity. Yet, the police was deployed all over Nehtaur, a a Muslim-majority town. By late afternoon that day—20 December—the police had killed two young men in a Muslim-populated colony where no procession was taken out.

Sagar is a staff writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Citizenship (Amendment) Act police brutality Adityanath Uttar Pradesh Bijnor