Doctors were reluctant to save lives, says kin of Kanpur firing victim

On 20 December 2019, the second week of passing India’s anti-Muslim citizenship law, mass shooting and police crackdown happened across Uttar Pradesh killing at least 23 Muslims. It is arguably the biggest single-day carnage in recent times. UP government systematically undermined the massacre by sieging the Muslim communities with internet shutdown, mass incarnation and brute human rights violation. Maktoob initiates a revisit to the Massacre and examines the life of survivors. We urge our readers to help us reach the victims. 

Although a year has passed, a sense of remorse trembles Mohammed Zaki when he recollects memories of the day his brother, Mohammed Saif was shot. “He came out to give me my lunch,” Zaki lamented. 25-year-old Saif became one among the three Muslims killed in Kanpur on 20 December 2019, in the police firing at the anti-CAA protesters. 

All the victims, Mohammed Saif, Aftab Alam and Mohammed Raees, have blamed police shooting at them in their dying statements. At least 23 Muslims were killed across Uttar Pradesh within 48 hours, one of the deadliest massacres in recent times.

In their small house in Munshi Purwa, Saif’s mother, Qamar Jahaan, still lives with a heavy heart.

“There was some Hustle in the area. The call for the protest after Friday prayer prompted tensions,” recall Zaki. 

That Friday, Mohammed Saif choose to not go for work. He was working at a belt factory in Jajmau, an industrial suburb. According to Zaki, many factories were shut and people avoided travel due to the hostility of that day. Muslims were angered by the new anti-Muslim citizenship law and the attack on protestors in Delhi. 

Mohammed Saif’s parents holding his photo. Photo: Mehwish Asim/Maktoob

After delivering lunch to his brother Zaki in Bakarganj Chauraha Market, Saif was walking into a stampede triggered by police action. Saif was shot at his abdomen and injured his hand in the effort to save himself. 

Saif was rushed to nearby Warish Hospital for first aid. Upon hearing the news, his family took Saif to government-run Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital, popularly known as Hallet Hospital. 

“Doctors didn’t save his life”

“He was conscious and told us that police shot him,” Saif’s father, Mohammed Taqi told Maktoob. Alike other victims families, Taqi also alleges medical negligence. “They took hours to attend him”. 

“He was in extreme pain but was still talking to us before they took him to the operation theatre”, says Zaki. According to records, Saif never made it through the surgery. The family had to hear about Saif’s death through a local TV channel although they were right outside the operation theatre. “Doctors only told us next morning,” claims Zaki. The body was taken for postmortem without waiting for the family’s consent.  

Zaki says police intimidation which began ‘the night at the hospital’ continues. Police refused to take Saif’s dying statement and even after a year no investigation is initiated. After police inaction, Saif’s family has filed a petition in court to investigate the killing. 

“It has been a year and the court haven’t decided whether to file the case against police or not”. 

“No threat can force us to take our case back,” says Taqi. Police had bluntly denied any shots fired at the protestors although social media videos show officers firing.

The family has been intimidated several times to remain silent about Saif’s murder. But for the poor family, justice is the only redemption.