Around 7 am on Sunday, Rayees Ahmad was on his way home to Nahali village when he heard about a clash between a group of police personnel and a mob near Bada Masjid. At least 20 officers from the NIA, the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and police from Ghaziabad and Meerut were pelted with stones and fired at during the exchange.
While one constable sustained a bullet injury, five others received minor injuries, police said. “The police vehicles were on one side of a pond, where the mob had gathered.People objected to someone being arrested. There was an exchange of fire and stone-pelting, said Ahmad, the head of Nahali village. On the other side of the pond in Ghaziabad’s Bhojpur area, the house — which belongs to Malook, the suspect the police were looking for — remained locked on Sunday evening. According to NIA, Malook was allegedly involved in supplying arms in the murder of an RSS leader in Punjab nearly two months ago.
According to local residents and police, this was not the first time that Malook’s name has come up in a police investigation. “There are seven-eight cases against him. He was an accused in the murder of the village pradhan in 2011-12. He was arrested but later acquitted,” said Akash Tomar, SP (City), Ghaziabad.
Ahmad said Malook’s family owned “seven-eight bighas” and farming is their main source of income. “The property belongs to his grandfather. Malook’s father Shokeen, his wife and their four sons live here with their families. Most of them are engaged in farming but Malook does not really do any work,” Ahmad said.
While some residents of the village claimed that they did not see what happened, others said they “did not know anyone who was part of the mob”. “Around 6 am, I heard a commotion, and then gunshots. I took my children and hid inside the house,” said a woman whose house is next to Malook’s. Ahmad, too, maintained, he did not recognise anyone who had allegedly “attacked the police”.
“They must have come from outside. I do not know who opened fire at the police or started pelting stones,” he said. At Bhojpur police station, an FIR against Malook, his four brothers, two uncles and 50-60 unknown persons was registered in the case. “The FIR has been filed under IPC sections pertaining to rioting, attempt to murder, voluntarily causing hurt and assault to deter public servant from discharging duty etc. Nazim, Malook’s neighbour, was arrested,” said Tomar.