It’s a tale of two FIRs — and it reveals glaring gaps in the response of the Uttar Pradesh Police to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
One FIR against 17 persons for alleged rioting and the other related to the killing of 23-year-old Mohammed Sheroz are two telling documents on the police investigation underway in Sambhal district.
In the former, the police has meticulously documented details of the alleged violence, the timeline of events, and slapped seven separate charges under the IPC against 17 named individuals. However, in the latter, the document is devoid of any detail, is completely silent on the murder — and just one section under the IPC has been slapped, records accessed by The Indian Express reveal.
This when both the FIRs are related to events that happened within 24 hours, in the same neighbourhood of Sambhal and registered at the same Kotwali Sambhal Police Station.
The stark contrast between the two FIRs is not just confined to the nature of charges.
In the FIR against 17 persons, who have been charged with rioting, the police have admitted they fired and have given a clean chit to their personnel on the grounds that the firing was done to control the mob and in self-defence.
However, in the FIR related to Sheroz, who had bullet injuries and was declared dead on December 20 by government authorities — he was one of the two killed in the district — no accused have been identified. Section 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) IPC has been invoked, not Section 302 (murder).
In fact, the Sheroz FIR is just a one-paragraph document registered on the basis of the initial complaint filed by his uncle Mohammed Taslim.
“Sheroz, my nephew who drives a truck, had gone out on work. At Chandausi Chauraha, he was found injured. His body was taken to Haseena Begum Hospital which referred him to the government hospital. He was declared brought dead at the government hospital,” the FIR states.
Despite the body being referred to a government hospital, the FIR makes no mention of the doctor who examined Sheroz; the time of his death and the prima facie reason for the death — routine information in an FIR related to a killing.
The FIR also makes no mention of any public witness or deployment of any police force at Chandausi Chauraha, where Sheroz was shot at. This despite a huge police deployment at the Chauraha after the district had witnessed a wave of protests on December 19.
Until tonight, no one in Sheroz’s family has received the post mortem report.
Officials admit that the absence of such crucial information in the FIR will only make the prosecution case weak as it would be nearly impossible to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, the basic requisite to prove that Sheroz was murdered. Now consider the FIR against protesters.
It mentions all the police officers being deployed at Chaudhary Sarai where the alleged violence and the firing took place.
The FIR gives a detailed account of the identity of each of the accused persons and the time-line of the incident. “At around 11:30 am, at Nagar Palika near Sambhal Maidan, Dr Shafiqur Rahman, Member of Parliament; Feroz Khan, Mushir Khan, Mauzam Khan, Sayyed Aslam, Asad Abdullah, Dr Nazim along with their supporters were protesting against the Citizen Amendment law. Section 144 CrPC had been imposed at Nagar Palika. However, despite the restriction these people were sloganeering,” the FIR reads.
“The protesters caused a (traffic) jam at Chaudhary Sarai, and at around 1:15 pm, they got aggressive, cornered the police and indulged in stone-pelting. They also targeted the government vehicles that were present and indulged in arson attack. There was panic among the civilians and commuters present at the site – and they had to run away to save their lives. The shop owners shut their shops. The Additional Superintendent of Police tried to talk to the protestors and make them understand – however, they did not listen to him; instead they got violent and launched an attack,” the FIR states.
The FIR also documents the firing of weapons and number of rounds of firing – and further, it gives a clean chit those officers, who were involved in the firing. “To control them and on the directions of the Additional Superintendent of Police, our official shot five rounds of bullets from the Anti Riot Gun; constable Praveen shot seven rounds of bullet…to protect the life and public property,” the FIR states.
This FIR also gives details of the injured policemen and the damage to public property. “With huge difficulty, the police force at the situation came under control around 1:45 pm. A government bus was set on fire; three roadways buses, Ecosport, Figo…car were vandalised. Sub Inspectors Radheshyam Sharma, Mahesh Kumar, Ravi Goyal suffered injuries,” the FIR states.
“The rioting FIR is written in such a way and with such detail that the police have the benefit of reasonable doubt,” said an official. “The killing FIR is so vaguely worded that no one knows who the accused is.”
SP, Sambhal, Yamuna Prasad, was unavailable for comment.