2019 UP Massacre: Muzaffarnagar took another toll

For an evening, Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh trembled as it witnessed a brush of violence that reminded the bloodied days from 2013. Chaos, gun shots, stampedes and arson made Muslims flee into the corners of the city. After a long night with police raids in Muslim localities, many were relieved to know only one life had been taken. 

25-year-old Noor Mohammad was shot in the head at Muzaffarnagar’s Meenakshi chowk. That one killing, orphaned two children, two-year-old Umaira and then unborn Abdul Samad and pushed a vulnerable family into abyss. 

One year exactly after Mohammad’s death, his wife Shanno tells Maktoob how they’ve not been given any compensation by the government.

“We had submitted an application and hired a lawyer who left the case without any reason, he just ran away. Afterwards, the court put the case in pending and since then nothing has happened,” says Shanno.

Mohammed was one of the 23 Muslims killed in UP last December after the anti-CAA protest broke out across India. Muslims and independent fact-finding reports point fingers at police for the violence. Many minors in Muzaffarnagar were also detained and tortured by police.

Shanno was seven months pregnant and a mother of an infant daughter when Mohammad breathed his last.

Noor Mohammed (right). Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

Shanno is now worried about the future of her children, basic amenities like food, clothes and water are a luxury to them at this moment. The house partially collapsed a few weeks after Noor Mohammad was killed, injuring his relative.

Many shopkeepers in Meenakshi Chowk refused on the fresh violence but observed it was not bad as the previous riot which took 62 lives and made 50 thousand people flee their locality.

“I have no idea how I am going to care for them, my eldest daughter is two and a half years old, I am worried sick about her education. We have inadequate clothes, neither for these ruthless winters nor for summers. A child needs every kind of comfort, mine has no comfort whatsoever,” grief-stricken mother said.

“We have not been given any justice. If we won’t be given any compensation than justice is what we need. They still have not found out who killed my husband,” Shanno said to Maktoob.

Noor Mohammed’s brother standing in his brother’s house. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

A week after the incident, based on a complaint from family, Muzaffarnagar police have registered a case under section 302 (murder) of IPC against unidentified persons.

Hours after Mohammad’s death, UP police refused to hand over his body to his brother Umar, on the pretext that news of the death could cause a law-and-order problem.

Shanno with her children. Photo: Special arrangements

“Mahaul garam ho jayega’ (It will inflame tension), was the reason given by the Muzaffarnagar police for not giving over the body,” Mohammad’s brother Umar said to Maktoob.

Forced burial by police happened in many cities that night across UP.

“They didn’t hand over my husband’s body to us for three days. We finally cremated them in Meerut (where he was taken to a hospital) at the insistence of police. I don’t have any hopes from the police,” Shanno said.

Umar said Mohammad’s family was not allowed to even bring the body to their native place. Umar said that the police told the family that they never fired any bullets during the protest.

“If the police did not fire then it must be Muzaffarnagar MP and BJP politician Sanjeev Balyan who was present in the protest, either it was Balyan or his guards that fired bullets,” Umar added.

Balyan was part of a Mahapanchayat in September 2013 which was held despite prohibitory orders and allegedly inflamed tensions. UP police charged him with violation of prohibitory orders and promoting enmity between two communities.

Many witnesses told Maktoob that violence started when Balyan’s men came into the scene. He is now serving as the minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairying in Narendra Modi cabinet.

Police also vandalised many Muslim shops and other properties after the clash in Meenakshi chowk. A Bank was set on fire and a Shi’a Madarasa was raided by police, detaining senior Shi’a cleric and several minor students.

Victims of the violent raid also alleged robbery by police personal who took money and gold from safes.

According to the physician who confirmed Mohammad’s death, Noor Mohammad was shot in the head and this was clear as there were entry and exit marks of the bullet which could be seen much before the postmortem.