For two days, Sabir has been sitting on the footpath outside the Bulandshahr District Jail. He borrowed Rs 800 from relatives for the 100-km journey from his home in Faridabad to the jail and barely notices the winter chill in the open.
He is anxious only about meeting his son Sajid, who was arrested a day after Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a civilian, Sumit Kumar, were killed in mob violence on December 3 during protests against alleged cow slaughter near Siyana village.
The Indian Express reported Wednesday that Sajid and three others — Sarfuddin, Asif and Nanhe — arrested on charges of cow slaughter a day after the mob violence were given a clean chit by the police and are expected to be released soon. Bulandshahr SSP Prabhakar Chaudhary had said that the four men were “innocent” and police have arrested three others for the alleged cow slaughter.
The police’s acknowledgement that the four men were innocent has their families relieved but deep in debt after borrowing money from relatives and neighbours to pay for legal fees and frequent trips to the jail, court and police station.
According to Sabir, his family left Siyana village 12 years ago. “We kept on saying that he (Sajid) wasn’t even present during the killings. The police did not pay heed. I have spent more than Rs 50,000 in the last two weeks on food, lodging and transport to visit the jail and police station multiple times. Even today, my cousin had to borrow Rs 800 on my behalf to sponsor the visit. This entire ordeal has set us back by six months. Our businesses have stopped.”
Sajid (25) ran a small soft-drink shop in Faridabad. According to his father, the family has been through “hell”. “Financially, I am in debt. Emotionally we have been cheated since he has been defamed. How will he earn his reputation back easily?” said Sabir.
Superintendent of Police (City) Atul Kumar Srivastava said Sajid, Sarfuddin, Asif and Nanhe will be released soon from the Bulandshahr District Jail after the requisite court orders.
One km away from Siyana village is Naya Bans, where at Sarfuddin’s house, his family greeted all with a smile Wednesday. “He runs a tailor Shop in Siyana which was enough to sustain the family including our two young boys and one girl. After he was taken away, it’s been very difficult for us. We had to visit the station every day. Sometimes twice in a day. He also has an illness that caused spasms. We had to ensure his medicines were on time. The process has drained us financially as we have spent more than Rs 50,000 including fees for lawyers,” said Sarfuddin’s wife, Bano.
Srivastava said: “We understand that there is a question of why innocent men were caught in the first place. But the bigger thing is that we have caught the actual criminals (Kaala, Nadeem and Raees) and made sure the innocent are let go. We went by the law and not by numbers. We have recovered a weapon and a vehicle which were allegedly used in the crime. We will ensure other people are caught in a timely fashion.”
The recent arrests have left 68-year-old Zaheerudin in Siyana’s Chaduriyan in disbelief. His son, Nadeem is now in police custody. “We have no idea why he has been picked up. He runs an internet and cable TV connection business in the small place. He has no connection to cow-related activities. In fact, they even took his old Gypsy claiming it was used in the crime. It can barely start and was last operated two months ago. Our entire family is baffled,” he said.