They were released after the SIT constituted to probe the violence found them innocent. The SIT arrested three more Muslim men for the alleged slaughter of cows while the main accused Bajrang Dal member Yogesh Raj is still untraceable.
Bulandshahr: The Uttar Pradesh police admitted that the four men - Sarfuddin, Sijid Ali, Banne Khan and Asif - who were arrested on December 5 in connection with the Bulandshahr mob violence, are innocent. No evidence has been found against them. After 17 days in custody, the police will release them after court proceedings.
Sarfuddin and Sijid Ali were named in the First Information Report (FIR) by Yogesh Raj, the Bajrang Dal activist, who is a key suspect in the mob violence and police inspector Subodh Kumnar Singh's killing. Banne Khan and Asif were arrested after interrogation and investigation.
Claiming that the four were "not arrested in haste", the police said that they acted "based on information available at that time."
"We are conducting an impartial probe. No evidence has been found against the four arrested earlier, we will release them. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) and technical teams are consistently investigating the cases. After collecting more evidence, we found that three others were involved along with their aides. A Gypsy vehicle, gun and other items were found on them," Atul Kumar Shrivastava, a senior police officer in Bulandshahr told NDTV.
Superintendent of Police (City) Atul Kumar Srivastava said Sajid, Sarfuddin, Asif and Nanhe will be released soon from the Bulandshahr District Jail after the requisite court orders.
The three others - Nadeem, Raees and Kala - were arrested on Tuesday and were involved in slaughtering the cows and placing their carcasses in the field, said KP Singh, inspector of the Siyana police station under which the incident occurred. “We have enough evidence to prove their involvement…” he told Economic Times over the phone.
According to Singh, police have recovered a double barrel gun, rope, knife and other weapons from the arrested people. “The licence for the gun is in the name of Nadeem,” he added.
“First, the state police went after the Muslim men for alleged cow slaughter and put them in jail for two weeks on the basis of a complaint filed by the main accused in the mob lynching incident, Bajrang Dal convenor Yogesh Raj. Then on Tuesday, the four were released after the SIT constituted to probe the violence found them innocent. The SIT arrested three more Muslim men for the alleged slaughter of cows with a bizarre narrative: “They were part of a gang that hunted cows and shot them with a double-barrelled gun. They would slaughter the cows using sharp instruments like knives and share the meat.” They were not named in the original FIR, nor their relations to the 3 December mob lynching incident is at all clear,” Firspost reported.
The main accused Yogesh Raj and a local BJP Yuva Morcha leader Shikhar Agrawal are still absconding and the SHO murder investigation has taken a backseat.
Expressing their anguish and anger over the recent mob violence in Bulandshahr that claimed the life of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh on December 3, 2018, 83 retired civil servants penned an open letter demanding the resignation of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath “for his failure to abide by the constitution to which he has sworn his allegiance”.
The letter has also been written in a bid to remind those in positions of power, like the “Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, the Home Secretary, and all other members of the higher civil services”, of their “constitutional duty to fearlessly implement the Rule of Law rather than the perverse dictates of their political masters”.
The former bureaucrats also make a request to the Allahabad high court to “take suo motu cognizance of this incident and order a judicial enquiry supervised by them to uncover the true facts, expose the political collusion, fix responsibility and recommend action”.
On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, believes that his government should be praised and thanked for whatever steps it has taken in the Bulandshahr case. He also calls the incident a "political conspiracy" against his government, which, he says, has been "exposed".
"Those who are giving unnecessary statements are doing it to hide their failures, instead they should applaud the government and should thank the government," Yogi Adityanath told reporters in Lucknow on Wednesday.
Families in debt
The families of the four wrongfully arrested have been pushed into debt after borrowing money from relatives and neighbours to pay for legal fees and frequent trips to the jail, court and police station.
“According to Sabir, his family left Siyana village 12 years ago. “We kept on saying that he (Sajid) wasn’t even present during the killings. The police did not pay heed. I have spent more than Rs 50,000 in the last two weeks on food, lodging and transport to visit the jail and police station multiple times. Even today, my cousin had to borrow Rs 800 on my behalf to sponsor the visit. This entire ordeal has set us back by six months. Our businesses have stopped.” Sajid (25) ran a small soft-drink shop in Faridabad. According to his father, the family has been through “hell”. “Financially, I am in debt. Emotionally we have been cheated since he has been defamed. How will he earn his reputation back easily?” said Sabir in a report by Indian Express.
“One km away from Siyana village is Naya Bans, where at Sarfuddin’s house, his family greeted all with a smile Wednesday. “He runs a tailor Shop in Siyana which was enough to sustain the family including our two young boys and one girl. After he was taken away, it’s been very difficult for us. We had to visit the station every day. Sometimes twice in a day. He also has an illness that caused spasms. We had to ensure his medicines were on time. The process has drained us financially as we have spent more than Rs 50,000 including fees for lawyers,” said Sarfuddin’s wife, Bano in the report.