HALF-AN-HOUR before the firing began in Pedda village of Bijnor on Friday morning, Anees Ahmed, 38, made 12 calls to the police control room, local MLA and senior district administration officials including the district magistrate. But nobody responded. Ahmed, husband of the pradhan of Gokalpur village — near Pedda village — said he was present at the spot when around 100 Jats gathered with weapons.
Some of them later fired at a Muslim family, leaving three of the family dead and 12 others injured. According to the police, trouble started after some Muslim girls were allegedly harassed at a bus stand on Friday morning. The dead have been identified as Haseenuddin, 50, Sarfaraz, 17 and Ehsan, 36.
Ahmed’s phone showed three calls to 100, the police control room, at 8:03 am. He said these calls went unanswered. At 8:07 am, he made two more calls to the same number. “The first three calls went unanswered. On the fourth call, the operator said he could not hear me. On the next call, he said they would see what they could do,” said Ahmed.
Ahmed then tried to contact senior police and district administration officials directly. “I called up the SSP, SP City, DM, and the MLA but nobody picked up their phones. I kept trying,” he said.
By then, the situation had worsened. “I know a policeman, Sub-Inspector Anurag Chaudhary, who is charge of our area. I called him up and explained the situation to him, but he did not take it seriously. I took my motorcycle and went to get him. But on the way back, Choudhary caught a driver who was ferrying sand illegally. He started inquiring into the matter. I explained the seriousness of the situation at the village, but he did not listen,” said Ahmed.
By the time Ahmed and Chaudhary reached the village, the violence had begun. “A large crowd of Jats had gathered and there was brick pelting from both sides. In a few minutes, five people climbed on the rooftops and started firing at one family, who were eating their breakfast,” said Ahmed.
SP City M M Baig said he had received a call, but claimed he could not attend to it as “he was busy”. “I will look into why the control room did not respond quickly,” he said. Bijnor MLA Ruchi Veera also confirmed that she had received a call. “I saw a missed call on my phone. I had gone for a bath and was not able to attend to the call,” she said.
SSP Umesh Kumar Srivastava, when contacted, said: “It is true that I received a call but I did not pick up my phone. It is also a matter of inquiry why the 100 number did not respond quickly. However, the police was there at 8:19 am.”
Bijnor District Magistrate Jagat Raj could not be contacted.
DIG, Moradabad range, Omkar Singh said Chaudhary has been suspended for “dereliction of duty”, adding that the police were “inquiring why he did not act.” Meanwhile, the police have registered cases of murder, rioting and molestation against all the 27 people named in the FIR who are from Pedda, Kachpura and Nayagaon villages. Police said six persons have been arrested while the others are absconding, including two gram pachayats of Nayagoan and Pedda.
Mobile internet services have been suspended to check spreading of rumours.