With Kannauj again on boil after the death of a Hindu youth following a communal clash on Thursday — second in less than four months — family members of Aqeel Ahmed who was killed in the previous clash on July 5 say that the police have still not arrested most of the accused named in the FIR.
The victim’s brother, Shakil, who had lodged an FIR against seven named and about a dozen unnamed persons, claimed that the accused he had named were “freely roaming in the town”.
“Shyamji Mishra (one of the accused named in the FIR and who, according to the police, is absconding) was at a press briefing of BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai on Sunday. He has been walking free, issuing threats to us. He has been posting inciting messages on Facebook,” Aqeel’s nephew Rizve said.
Bajpai had held a press conference in Kannauj on Sunday, and later released a statement saying that “the clash (on Thursday) was the result of the district administration’s failure as the police did not act even after the rioters killed an innocent man, Mahesh Kushwaha.” Five persons, including a BJP leader, has been arrested in this case.
In the incident in July, on the other hand, of the seven persons that Shakil had named in the FIR, two have been arrested. This was confirmed by SHO of City Kotwali police station Bhullan Yadav, who also said that two of the names had to be removed since their role (in Aqeel’s murder or the violence) could not be established.
Yadav added that four of the accused — Chhotu Yadav (city president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha), Shyamji Mishra, Vishal Shukla and Manu Parthasarthi — are absconding. He also said that “a few more names” had cropped up during the investigation and that these persons have been arrested. The police were now initiating property attachment of those still absconding, he added.
At the time the FIR was registered, the police had also probed the role of BJP leader Subrat Pathak, although he was not named as an accused. Police suspected Pathak, who had unsuccessfully contested against Dimple Yadav from Kannauj Lok Sabha seat in 2014, had “incited people and indulged in firing”.
The SHO declined to comment on the progress of the investigation into Pathak’s role.
The July incident was a fallout of an argument between a Muslim landlord, Imran Warsi, and his tenant Satish Chandra Gupta over Warsi’s shop which the latter had been renting for over 50 years. A clash broke out when Gupta was asked to vacate the shop, resulting in 42-year-old Aqeel Ahmed from the nearby locality being hit by a bullet in the neck.
Four months later, barely 300 metres away from the spot, members of the two communities clashed when a Muslim youth entered into an argument after some men who were on their way to immerse a Durga idol allegedly threw colour on him. A clash erupted, shots were fired in which one Mahesh died while another, Apoorva Gupta, sustained bullet injuries.