Fact-finding report reveals police brutality at Aurangabad and Phulwari Sharif

At the anti-CAA protest in Bihar on Dec 20, the police unleashed violence with impunity, ransacking homes and assaulting men, women and even children

Phulwari Sharif police brutalities

On December 21, 2019, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav had called for a bandh in Bihar against the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). At the time, Additional Director General, Bihar Police, Jitendra Kumar had told reporters that around 1,550 preventive arrests had been made in connection with the bandh.

The protest was soon marred by violence, with clashes first erupting in Phulwari Sharif where at least 25 people were reported to be injured due to stone pelting by miscreants. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the armed district police were called in to rein in the violence, and they resorted to tear gas lobbing, lathi charge and firing.

On December 23, 2019, a fact-finding team under the aegis of the Human Rights Law Network and a CAA_NRC Legal Support Team visited the city of Aurangabad, Bihar to investigate the events which led to extreme police brutalities against the residents of the city in the wake of the protests.

On December 26 and 27, 2019, another team of 14 members from organizations like Aman Biradari, Mahila Samaj, National Alliance of People’s Movement, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression along with the CAA_NRC Legal Support Team visited Phulwari Sharif near Patna to investigate the violence that had taken place during the bandh in the area.

Aurangabad Fact Finding

The fact finding team spoke to victims, locals, journalists, and the police and district administrations to understand what happened during the protest.

They report that the protest was peaceful till half past noon, but suddenly turned violent after some local leaders and miscreants allegedly affiliated to right wing engaged in a heated argument with the group of the protesters. Soon thereafter, stones were designedly pelted on the protestors near Jama Masjid, by few persons who were neither part of the protest nor local residents, with the intent to both delegitimize the protests which had protestors from all religious communities as also to communalize the issue, that is, to make it primarily a ‘Hindu versus Muslim’ issue. To which the protesting group also retaliated by resorting to pelting of stones. The local administration and the police did intervene. However, subsequently, and under the garb of maintaining public order, the police allegedly unleashed exceptional brutality on the residents of five colonies being Qureshi Mohallah, Shahganj, Islam Toli, Pathan Toli and Ansar Bagh.

The police dispersed the hostile groups and headed to the neighbourhoods mentioned above. Aman, (name changed) a victim and local resident, deposed “the police team, barged into the residences, damaged private vehicles, ransacked homes (includes firing of teargas shells inside homes), assaulted men, women and children inside their homes. They also looted them of their money and jewellery, damaged/broke appliances, furniture, utensils, grills, hand-pumps and many other household articles.”

Men, women and children alike, sustained injuries. Accounts from locals say that there were no female police personnel were part of these raids and the women were allegedly dragged by their hair by the male police personnel. More than 12 people sustained injuries, with 4 being in a critical condition after having sustained multiple fractures and other external injuries. A total of 39 people were arrested till December 23rd, including 3 women and 3 minors.

Sahil (name changed), a victim and eye witness told the team, “Even the senior police and administrative officers were involved in pelting of stones inside homes.” In one of the videos collected by the team, the District Magistrate, Aurangabad could be seen holding stones in his hand.

In sum and substance, the police allegedly unleashed exceptional brutality and terror with impunity in Muslim neighbourhoods. Residents claimed that this was done in unity by the State Government, District Administration and the local police just to remind the people of the community that they were lesser beings. An FIR was also registered by the local administration against 84 named accused and 100-150 unnamed people for offences punishable under the Explosive Substances Act and Arms Act, among other sections of the IPC, mostly on manufactured accusations.

Phulwari Sharif Fact Finding

According to the fact-finding team, multiple incidences of violence took place in various parts of Phulwari Sharif, all of which were allegedly organized by right-wing forces.

On 21st December, 2019, protestors assembled near Tumtum Padav which is a central location in Phulwari Sharif. A larger gathering was at Thana Chowk where the maximum police force was deployed. A smaller group which was at Tumtum Padav attempted to move forward on the main road towards Sangat Muhallah. In the meanwhile, stone pelting started from the rooftops of different buildings in Sangat Mohalla to which the group of the protestors also retaliated by resorting to stone pelting. In the meantime, dozens of gun shots were also fired from the side of Sangat Muhallah. At around 12:30 pm, a man was apprehended by a group of right wing associates and was inflicted a dagger blow. Allegedly, a Hanuman Idol was also damaged.

The team reported that in total, 7 protestors sustained gunshot injuries, with shots being fired by the residents of the Sangat Mohalla, allegedly linked to right-wing forces. The same finds corroboration from the testimony of the S.H.O., Phulwari Sharif. In the violence, 2 critically injured constables were admitted to AIIMS Hospital. An 8-year-old boy, Amir Hanzala, was missing from the place of occurrence and a single woman, a resident of Phulwari Sharif allegedly faced mob violence at her house by the right-wing forces with around a 100 men pelting stones at her and her family.

It was also found that that though the police had the situation under control by around 3 PM, at 4:30 PM, a group of young men entered the Haroon Colony waving pistols and hurling abuses. They pelted stones at some aged persons and though the police was present there, it didn’t intervene.

The police later registered an FIR against 101 named and 1000 unnamed people for offences punishable under Section 307 and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 49 people were arrested in the matter.

An FIR was also registered in the case pertaining to the disappearance of Amir Hanzala, and from discussions with the police personnel, journalists and other witnesses, there is serious apprehension regarding his safety. However, it is prima facie clear that the police, for inexplicable reasons, have not taken adequate emergent measures to trace/recover the missing boy. The aggrieved father of the boy has been unfailingly visiting the police station for over a week, where from he is yet to get any valuable information.

The fact finding team concluded from the accounts of the victims and residents that the police and the administration were not prepared to deal with the pre-planned violence by the alleged right-wing forces, though it was reported that they had received prior tip-offs about the incidents.

Keeping in mind the situation, the team has put forth the following set of demands:

  • We demand independent judicial inquiry into the incidences of police brutality in Aurangabad. We also demand immediate transfer and suspension (in contemplation of departmental proceeding) of all the erring officers specially the District Magistrate, Aurangabad, Superintendent of Police, Aurangabad and others involved in the misadventure.

  • We demand independent judicial inquiry into the actions of police and intelligence agencies with regard to Phulwari Sharif violence. This violence could have been prevented if the intelligence agency and police acted promptly on the intelligence input regarding preparation to commit mischief and disturb communal harmony.

  • We demand with emphasis immediate constitution of Special Investigation Team headed by an officer not below the rank of an IG for time bound investigation and earliest recovery of the missing.

  • We demand the state government to compensate those who were injured and severely injured in the violence at Phulwari Sharif, Patna and Aurangabad.

  • We demand specific inquiry into the alleged role of right wing forces in inciting / causing violence in Phulwari Sharif as well as in Aurangabad.

  • Child Welfare Committee (CWC) should also inquire into the incidents of violence against children in the incidents of Phulwari Sharif and Aurangabad.

  • We also demand National Human Rights Commission, Minorities Commission and National Commission for Women, National Commission for Rights of Children to hold their independent inquiries into the incidences of police brutality and violence in Aurangabad and Phulwari Sharif. 

The fact-finding Committee will also be forwarding their report to the above organizations so that they can register an FIR against the concerned police and district administrative officers for the unjustified and excessive use of force and wanton acts of destruction by the Aurangabad Police and District Administration.


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