Three men of a family died and 12 sustained injuries in a clash in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district Friday, police said. According to police, the violence followed allegations that some Hindu boys had verbally harassed Muslim girls in Bijnor’s Pedda village. Police identified the dead as members of the girls’ family Haseenuddin, 50, Sarfaraz, 17 and Ehsan, 36.
According to police, the spark appeared to be the alleged harassment of some girls at a bus stand in the village, at around 7.30 am. “According to the family of the deceased, the girls were harassed and there was a scuffle between the two communities. But locals stopped the fight and intervened to contain the situation,” said IG, Bareilly Zone, Vijay Singh Meena.
“However, at around 8.30 am, around 100 people from the Jat community from surrounding villages gathered in Pedda and some of them fired at one Muslim family. This left three dead and several injured,” Meena said. He said an FIR had been registered and six people had been detained for questioning. According to police, one company each of the provincial armed constabulary and the rapid reaction force has been deployed to control the situation.
Police said five people had fired at the family from surrounding rooftops, prima facie using 12 bore pellet guns.
Police have suspended three policemen, who were allegedly present in the vicinity at the time of the attack, for “dereliction of duty”. DIG, Moradabad Range, Onkar Singh said, “Why the three policemen chose not to act is a matter of inquiry. We have suspended them as of now.” The suspended officers include a sub-inspector.
Eight people are being treated at Bijnor district hospital while the others, who are in a critical condition, have been sent for treatment to Meerut, said CMS of the district hospital V K Shukla. The injured include Ehsan’s wife and Hassenuddin’s 16-year-old daughter.
Hassenuddin’s 18-year-old son, Mohammad Taalib Khan, claimed he was going to drop his cousin sisters to a nearby school when a few people passed lewd comments. “I ignored them and left, but my uncle confronted them. When I came back, there was a scuffle going on between them. Eventually, the matter was resolved, but those people gathered others and came to our village.
At first, they set a salon run by our neighbour on fire and then started throwing bricks… All this happened in front of three policemen… One of my neighbours kept trying to call 100 but they did not respond,” alleged Khan, who lost his father, uncle Ehsan and his cousin Sarfaraz in the incident.
He alleged that five people climbed different rooftops as well as a tree and started firing. “My sister and her husband had come to our house for the first time after marriage. We were talking and eating and suddenly we heard shots fired. One by one, three people from my family went down,” he said.
Ehsan’s nephew Mohammad Asif, too, alleged that the attackers rounded up people from the neighbouring villages of Nayagaon and Adipur. DIG, Moradabad, Onkar Singh; ADG, Law and Order, Daljeet Chaudhary; and principal secretary, Home, Debashish Panda reached the spot as angry relatives put the bodies of the men on the national highway and blocked traffic.
“The situation is under control. Police and PAC have been deployed in the village and arrests are being made,” he said. The state government has announced Rs 20 lakh as compensation for the next of kin of the dead, and Rs 5 lakh for the injured.
Haseenuddin, a painter, is survived by his wife Zareena and five children. Ehsan used to work at a barber’s shop in Delhi and had come home for Bakrid. He is survived by his wife Abida Khatoon and three children. Sarfaraz was studying in Class X.
With Manish Sahu & Ishita Mishra