UP: Kin Identify Men in Viral Video of Custodial Torture; 'Verifying Footage,' Say Cops

'Every true Indian should be happy when action is taken against miscreants, rioters and anti-nationals. I will keep celebrating action taken against them,' the BJP MLA who shared the video, Shalabh Tripathi, told 'The Wire'.

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New Delhi: Arrests and other police action continue in Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of the June 10 protests against comments by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders against Islam.

On Saturday, June 11, a video had surfaced on social media which was extensively shared. It showed some young men being brutally beaten up in police custody. The location of the video could not be initially ascertained, but it was claimed that the video was shot at the Kotwali police station in Saharanpur district. 

According to an investigation by Saurabh Shukla of NDTV, the relatives of those seen in the video say that the video is indeed from Saharanpur. And they insist their relatives were tortured in custody – as the video depicts – despite the police continuing to deny these claims. 

One of those seen being beaten up in custody has been identified as Mohammad Ali, a resident of Peergali in Saharanpur. Ali’s mother recognised him in the video and told NDTV that he was tortured, hit and harassed in custody. “They are being called miscreants. His hands are swollen [from the beatings],” Ali’s mother said.

Another man in the video is Mohammad Saif, reports NDTV, quoting his family. Saif’s sister has told the channel, “When we met him in prison, we saw that his hands are swollen and his legs have marks which show injuries. They are being denied water and treatment.”

Speaking to The Wire, Saharanpur Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said, “The location of the station where the custodial violence took place is being ascertained.”

He added, “We are verifying if this took place in Saharanpur or Moradabad.” 

In his statements to the media, SP Kumar has categorically denied that the video was shot in Saharanpur. 

‘Action against anti-nationals’

The viral video surfaced on Twitter this Saturday and was shared by Shalabh Tripati, a BJP MLA from Devariya in Uttar Pradesh. 

In his post on Twitter, the MLA and former media advisor to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath describes the police action as a “return gift” to protesters.

Tripathi’s remarks were condemned by many on social media. A complaint was also filed against him and the respective police station with the National Human Rights Commission by Trinamool Congress’s Saket Gokhale. The status of the complaint is not known.

Also read: Former SC, HC Judges, Lawyers Issue ‘Urgent Appeal to SC to Take Note of UP State Repression’

The Wire reached out to Shalabh Tripathi and asked him about the video shared by him and the subsequent demand for action by the human rights body against him.

“Whatever action should be taken is being taken. Police have human rights, so do people who are targeted by rioters and miscreants,” Tripathi said.

Does his video offer the impression that he is “celebrating” police brutality, The Wire asked. “Every true Indian should be happy when action is taken against miscreants, rioters and anti-nationals. I will keep celebrating action taken against them,” he said.

The Wire reached out to NHRC chairperson Justice Arun Mishra to seek his response on the video showing custodial torture in Saharanpur. This article will be updated if and when a response is received. 

Tripathi is not the only BJP leader who has vocally supported police action on protesters.

Following the protests on June 10, Mrityunjay Kumar, media advisor to Adityanath, wrote on Twitter, “Remember, every Friday is followed by a Saturday,” and posted a photo of a bulldozer demolishing a building.

Bulldozer action in Saharanpur

The Uttar Pradesh police has arrested over 80 people from Saharanpur and a total of 13 FIRs have been filed across Uttar Pradesh in connection with the protests on June 10. 

The residences of two Muslim men arrested in the case since the protests – Muzzamil and 17-year-old Abdul Waqir – were demolished on Saturday, June 11, just a day after the protest. The police reached the houses of two accused, along with a team of officials of the local civic body, and razed parts of their houses which they claim were illegal constructions. 

Speaking to The Wire, Gulbahar, Abdul’s brother, explained what transpired at their house.

“There were only women at home when the police came. The police said, ‘Call your brother, or else a bulldozer will be run over your home.’ After he was taken away, more police cars arrived at the scene, a bulldozer came and bulldozed our home anyway. He was handed over to the police, so what was the point of bulldozers?” Gulbahar asked.

Teenager Abdul is the youngest of his brothers. His family said that the police did not furnish any notice or document while taking him away or destroying the house.

The upper storey of the building, where the family lived, is now no longer inhabitable.

His brother stated that their house is shared by 15 people including young children. Speaking about the administration he said, “They are making decisions for themselves and taking action.” 

Bulldozers also demolished anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protester Afreen Fatima’s residence in Prayagraj after her father, Welfare Party leader Javed Mohammad was named as a “key conspirator” in the violence by Uttar Pradesh Police. 

Former judges and senior advocates have written to the Supreme Court, urging it to take suo motu cognisance of state repression in Uttar Pradesh.