Clashes in the Ramganj area that led to the death of one man in police firing indicate a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the police among its mostly Muslim residents.
Jaipur: “The police in Ramganj were crossing all limits. They would hit every second vehicle passing by the area, charge Rs 5,000 for not wearing helmet or not producing a driving licence to them. Two days ago, a police officer kicked and hit a boy standing with his mobile on the street with his baton so badly that it fractured his hand. The situation of the street vendors is even worse. The police take bribes from them and then thrash them too. There is no doubt people in Ramganj were angry,” Aslam Khan, a local resident told The Wire.
On Friday night, violence broke out in Jaipur’s Ramganj area triggered by a dispute between residents and the police after local policemen allegedly assaulted a Muslim couple who were then kept waiting for hours when they sought to lodge an FIR in the matter.
The majority of Ramganj’s residents are Muslim.
“While I was crossing the Ramganj area with my wife and three-year-old daughter, a policeman hit us with his lathi and our child fell down from the motorcycle. We were angry and upset and went to the police station to lodge a complaint. There they abused us and made us wait for at least three hours. Some of the policemen at the station appeared to be drunk,” said Sajid, the local resident who was allegedly assaulted by the police.
As the hours went by, the crowd which had gathered outside the station grew increasingly restless and eventually turned violent, setting ablaze a power transformer and several vehicles. The police fought the mob back and resorted to firing in which a 24-year-old man identified as Mohammad Raees was killed. At least four policemen were also injured and rushed to the hospital.
“That night, Raees went out around 9 pm to purchase a few things for an ongoing function at home. When he didn’t return for quite some time, we called him. Someone else picked up his phone and informed us that he has been shot by the police and taken to SMS Hospital. We rushed to the hospital but couldn’t find him there. Nobody took him to the hospital. He was put in a nearby electric rickshaw for some time after which he was brought to the hospital on a scooty. The hospital also delayed his treatment and he died from excessive blood loss,” Jameel, elder brother of Raees, told The Wire.
“My brother was shot on the left shoulder, close to the chest. The police in no case should shoot above the waist. He was the only earning member in the family. His father died few years ago and three sisters are yet to be married. The police, till now, haven’t lodged our complaint. They have orders from Parnamiji (state president of the BJP) not to do so. At least 100 policemen are deployed outside the mortuary and we are not even allowed to talk among ourselves,” added Jameel.
The relatives of the deceased have demanded compensation of Rs 1 crore and a government job for one of its family members.
“On whose order did the police fire on the mob? There was no senior official at the station. In fact, Raees was shot about two kilometers away from the police station. Why did they chase the mob to that distance,” said 63-year-old Jasmeen Farooqui, a Ramganj resident.
Asked about the allegations of Raees’s family of intentional shooting above the waist and the fact that the shooting occurred at a considerable distance from the police station, where the violence had erupted, deputy commissioner of police, Satyendra Singh, told The Wire that these issues were a matter of investigation and that an FIR had been lodged and sent to the sub-divisional magistrate.
The Ramganj locality is well-known as a sensitive area of Jaipur. In the past too, minor disputes have escalated into violent clashes but the mishandling of Friday’s petty issue has once again served to underscore the lack of faith most residents have with the police.
“The police should be sensitive in such areas. Everyone knows that the minorities feel vulnerable and such incidents can lead to riots but still the authorities are least bothered,” said Shashikant, a local resident living adjacent to the Ramganj area in Brahampuri.
Speaking to The Wire, Sanjay Agarwal, commissioner of police said, “There is nothing right or wrong in such situations. It was an unfortunate incident but the situation is under control. We have full proof that the police behaved properly that day.”
“This hasn’t happened with us for the first time. The police work insensitively in Ramganj. It is their daily routine to beat and harass the street vendors of the area. A few months back, my nephew was also illegally detained by them but somehow we managed to bring him back. We are made to feel vulnerable,” added Farooqui.
“After the Rajasthan high court on August 31 ordered the state government to shift Khadda Basti (a 50-year-old settlement with 90% of the Muslims) to Paldi Meena, poor people in Ramganj are afraid of any such move in this area,” said Sartaj, another local resident.
Following the mayhem, curfew was imposed in four police station areas of the city – Manak Chowk, Subhas Chowk, Galta Gate and Ramganj police station area till 8 pm Saturday and internet services have also been suspended in the city for two days – from 6 am on Saturday to midnight on Sunday.
Shruti Jain is a freelance journalist.