The Uttar Pradesh police have always been very communal and trigger happy. The paramilitary forces, particularly the PAC is even worse.
As we debate Vivek Tiwari’s cold-blooded murder, my mind goes to a cold wintry morning at the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement when some two dozen policemen stormed our Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in Lucknow around 6 am to arrest a man suspected of rioting and arson.
Faced with resistance, the cops, including PAC personnel, clambered on the top floor of a nearby school building and then, shouting Jai Shri Ram, opened unprovoked fire at the homes below.
Within minutes, four were dead and many injured. All men died in their homes. One of them was a friend who had got married weeks before.
His brain was blown to smithereens by a .303 bullet as he stumbled out of bed, half asleep and opened his bedroom window to look out.
When the guns fell silent, the cops broke into several homes and rounded any young man they could get their hands on.
Shaukat, the blind muezzin of our mosque, was dragged out on the street and shot in the palm of his hand by a service revolver in full public view. Media reports on the following day said he was injured after a crude bomb exploded in his hand. A blind man throwing bombs? I found it funny even under those critical circumstances.
The police also gate crashed into my uncle’s house, a mere 200 meters from my own place and whisked away two of my cousins to the Aminabad police station where they were beaten mercilessly all day and forced to chant Jai Shri Raam.
“Katve, yeh lo Javed Miandad Ka chakka,” the cops jeered as they rained lathi blows on my cousins, who had been arrested because they were dressed in shalwar kameez.
Another young cousin, who lived in the same house was spared because he had the presence of mind to hurriedly pullover over a pair of jeans.
Later that evening, some us visited the police station carrying warm clothes and blankets for our cousins who were still in illegal custody and shivering in cold.
As we handed over the blankets, a police inspector sized us up and asked: “Saaley Katve, bhainsa khaatey ho, phir bhi sardi lag rahi hai?
I was not at home when the police firing started that morning. My Dad and I had gone to the nearby Charbagh Railway station to pick my uncle and cousin who were coming back from Delhi.
And since there were no cellphones during those days, we remained blissfully unaware of the carnage until we drove back towards our home.
We had no clue even when a posse of policemen who had set up a barricade in the middle of the LaTouche road stopped us and asked us to step out. As we revealed our names, the policemen started raining lathi blows on the four of us.
We were all well dressed, and by no accounts, looked criminals. My dad showed them railway tickets, saying we had merely gone to pick our relatives. But the explanation cut no ice.
The beat us mercilessly. One enthusiastic cop even cocked a gun at us. Luckily he didn’t pull the trigger else I would have also ended up as Vivek Tiwari.
(The write up has been taken from Mazhar Farooqui’s Facebook wall).