Declared ‘missing’ in 2013 riots, two ‘victims’ found living with their family in Muzaffarnagar

Police closed the cases in 2014 saying they were ‘untraceable’; govt announced ex-gratia last month.

Written by Manish Sahu | Lucknow | Updated: October 17, 2016 9:08 am
Muzaffarnagar, Muzaffarnagar riots, Muzaffarnagar riots 2013, riots, chief minister akhilesh yadav, India news, lucknow, lucknow news, Indian express news The riots in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining districts had left more than 60 people dead and over 40,000 displaced. (File)

Two persons, including a woman, believed to have gone “missing” after the riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining districts in 2013 have been found safe and living with their respective families. Their respective families had filed missing complaint with the police. The cases were later turned into that of kidnapping.

The police already had filed closure reports in both the cases stating that the “victims” could not be traced. The fact that they are both alive and safe came to the fore last week when the district administration started the process to identify the families of all the concerned “missing victims” to extend them the compensation announced by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

In September, Akhilesh had announced to give Rs 15 lakh each to the families of 18 persons who were declared missing during the riots and had remained “untraceable”. They included six from Muzaffarnagar and rest from Shamli district.

While collecting the names of the beneficiaries, a team from district administration reached the houses of Asima (70) and Gulfam (30) at Khalapur locality in City Kotwali police station area and Shorum village in Shahpur police station area, respectively, in Muzaffarnagar. The officials were in for a shock when they found the “victims” staying with their respective families.

“Both were found at their respective homes while the team of district administration was collecting details of the beneficiaries. We have informed the state government about the status of Asima and Gulfam,” said Additional District Magistrate, Finance, Sunil Kumar Singh.

Revenue clerk, Moolchand Saini, who was part of the team, which went to Asima’s house, said, “Initially family members did not disclose that Asima was never kidnapped and was there in the house. It was the neighbours who revealed that Asima lives with the family. We visited the family again and questioned the members who admitted that Asima was there in the house. We recorded the statement of Asima too.”

During inquiry, it was revealed that soon after the riots erupted, Asima had reached her daughter Rafia’s house in Delhi. She stayed there for few months before returning home. Meanwhile, her family had filed a missing complaint, which was later converted into a kidnapping case, the inquiry revealed.

When contacted, Asima’s son, Mahboob said, “My mother had gone to market when riots broke out. District administration imposed curfew and we could not venture out to go looking for her. We later lodged a missing report with the police. After a few months, my sister informed me that mother was at her house. I went to Delhi after a year and brought her back.”

Mahboob confirmed that he did not inform the police about her return and “they too never inquired in this regard.”

On the other hand, the inquiry revealed that Gulfam had been arrested and sent to jail by a local court in Baghpat district in a case of altercation when he had gone to visit a relative a few days before the riots broke out. His family claimed that they did not know about his being lodged in jail and lodged a missing complaint, which was later altered into a kidnapping case.

“When he did not return home, we lodged a complaint. Later, we came to know through a local resident that Gulfam was lodged at Baghpat district jail in connection with a case. He was arrested there in the name of Zeeshan. We, however, did not inform the police about the development,” said Gulfam’s younger brother Zulfikar, adding that he was released on bail about eight months ago.

SSP Muzaffarnagar, Deepak Kumar said that closure report had been filed in both the cases in 2014 and now court would be informed about the false information given by the family members.

Saharanpur Range DIG, J K Shahi, however, said, “This appears to be a serious matter of laxity in police investigation, which could not find out the whereabouts of the ‘victims’ and filed the closure report. Action would be taken into the matter after SSP sends the report in this regard.”