Wednesday, April 24, 2024

In Haldwani UAPA case, jailed Muslim businessman claims framing, denies presence at scene

Abdul Malik (64), a resident of Haldwani, Uttarakhand, who was arrested on 24 February by the Uttarakhand Police under the draconian UAPA in connection with the Haldwani protest, in which half a dozen Muslims were killed in police firing, alleged that he is falsely implicated in the case as he was not even present during the incident.

Accused by the Uttarakhand Police of instigating the mob against police and municipal officials in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura locality on February 8, Malik is projected as the ‘main conspirator’ in the protest that unfolded in the Banbhoolpura area of the town. This protest emerged following the demolition of a mosque and Madrasa against the High Court’s order and the police killing of protesters.

The case against Malik and 15 others

In the police complaint filed on February 8, authorities charged Malik and 15 others under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, commonly known as UAPA. The report alleges that they orchestrated the assembly of a hostile crowd, inflaming them on religious premises, and instigating an assault against government officials and law enforcement personnel stationed at the Banbhoolpura area that evening.

In the First Investigation Report filed at Banbhoolpura Police Station – FIR number 21, the complainant station house officer Neeraj Bhakuni has claimed that local authorities and municipal officers arrived at Banbhoolpura’s Malik ka Bagicha neighbourhood at 4 pm on 8 February  “to demolish what they deemed to be unauthorised construction.”

“Police personnel were also present to ensure the safety of the officials during the demolition operation. As the demolition commenced, a crowd gathered from all directions,” Bhakuni alleged in the FIR.

The FIR identifies 16 men who allegedly led the mob, one among them is Abdul Malik.

According to the FIR, these individuals were actively motivating the crowd and urging them to prevent the demolition from taking place.

They purportedly asserted their authority over the area, stating that “we control this territory, not the government. Banbhoolpura belongs to us,” and “We will not let the demolition take place, we rule here,” as per the FIR.

The FIR further claims, “These 16 men further instigated the mob with religious slogans, turning them more aggressive,” and “In large numbers (thousands) and from all directions, the crowd started stone-pelting at the police and the administration.”

The FIR stated that the mob attacked the police with the intent to kill, snatched their weapons and people started shutting their shops and a stampede-like situation occurred in the area.

“The mob went out of control and also set multiple vehicles and a transformer in the area on fire which resulted in a power outage,” it stated.

The FIR also alleged that the mob looted a set of bullets from the Police Station and “to control the unruly mob, tear and rubber bullets were fired on the orders of Municipal Magistrate, Richa Singh.”

The FIR lists 16 men and ‘other rioters’ which include Abdul Malik, his son Abdul Moeed, Javed Siddiqui (Brother of Samajwadi Party leader Mateen Siddiqui), Shakeel Ansari, a former councillor, Arshad Ayyub, Mehboob Alam, Jishan, Abu Tasleem, Wasim urf Happa, Maukin Saifi, Ajaz Ahmad, Junaid, Tasleem, Aslam Chaudhary, Ziya Ur Rahman, and Rais urf Dattu.  

They all have been booked under section 15 of the stringent UAPA and 12 sections of the Indian Penal Code, including attempt to murder, rioting, and dacoity. The Uttarakhand Prevention of Defacement of Public Property Act, 2003, and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932, have also been invoked in the FIR.

Malik’s name has been pushed by Haldwani police and authorities in the public domain from the day one of the Haldwani unrest as the “Mastermind” of the police violence that erupted after a madrasa and mosque, constructed by him were arbitrarily demolished by the Municipal authorities under police presence despite the property was being contested in the court.

The police violence has also claimed 7 lives out of which 6 are Muslims and multiple people are still injured with medical negligence and no institutional assistance by the Uttarakhand authorities.

Speaking to Maktoob, Malik’s counsel Ahrar Baig said, “These are allegations levelled by the state, we will contest it as per law.”

He also added that for now they are planning to file a bail application in the case.

Baig also mentioned the letter Malik wrote to Uttarakhand authorities informing them about his whereabouts during the violence in Haldwani on February 8 and 9.

He said, “The letter written by Malik was handed over to the DGP and other authorities by hand by his lawyer.”

He however didn’t disclose the name of the legal aide and said, “He is one of the lawyers in Malik’s legal team headed by senior advocate Salman Khurshid.”

Malik’s letter to authorities

In a communication addressed to the Director-General of Police (DGP) in Uttarakhand, Abhinav Kumar, Malik, however, asserted that he was not present in Haldwani on the day of unrest.

In the letter to the officials, a copy of which was also sent to the Senior Superintendent of Police in Nainital, Prahalad Meena and District Magistrate of Nainital Vandana Singh he stated that he was in Delhi, Noida, and Faridabad on February 7 and February 8, engaging with lawyers, and politicians, and visiting his daughter.

In his letter to DGP, Malik has asserted, “I have no connection with this incident of February 8 and I’m being framed” and that he is ready to surrender and cooperate in the impartial investigation that will follow.

The rest of the letter, seen by Maktoob is undated and carries a detailed account of Malik’s movements on 7 and 8 of February and that he has been “falsely framed.”

The Scroll’s investigation has also substantiated that he was in Delhi and other mentioned locations on the said dates.

Another case

Moreover, on 22 February, the Uttarakhand police filed a fresh case against Abdul Malik, his wife Safia Malik, and 4 others for alleged criminal conspiracy and fraudulently using a dead man’s name for illegal plotting, construction, and transfer of land, NDTV reported.

They have been charged with “hatching a criminal conspiracy to mislead the government departments and the court based on false affidavits.”

They have been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 417 (cheating), and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the IPC, he told reporters.

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