Meerut: Injured denied entry in private hospitals, police haven’t registered FIRs that they shot protesters

One hospital admitted it had orders from the administration to not admit injured protesters.

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Meerut: Injured denied entry in private hospitals, police haven’t registered FIRs that they shot protesters
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At about 6.30 pm on December 20, over 10 police officers walked into Santosh Hospital, a prominent private hospital located along Meerut’s Hapur Road. 

“They gave us instructions to not admit those injured in the protests in our hospital,” a person in the hospital’s management told Newslaundry on the condition of anonymity. “They said we have to identity the protesters and we need the right numbers. We were to simply refer the injured to the Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College without treatment.” LLMRC is located four kilometres from Santosh Hospital. 

Earlier that day, protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens had broken out in Meerut’s Islamabad, Lisarigate and Khatta Road area at 3 pm, shortly after the Friday prayers. Five were killed after the police cracked down on the protesters. Ninety-seven have been named in two separate FIRs, which has also booked 2,000 unknowns.

At about 11 am on December 21, a day later, Santosh Hospital’s management claimed that a person with bullet injuries walked in but was not admitted for treatment. “We told him, ‘bhaiya yahaan nahi, aap kahi aur jaiye’. Not here, go somewhere else. We were also scared, we had to cooperate with the police,” the person told Newslaundry.

In the neighbouring Jagdamba Hospital, manager Rutbahar Rana revealed that while the police showed up at the hospital on December 20, it gave no instructions about the injured. “They were here just to see if everything is okay,” he said. 

However, Jagdamba Hospital also did not admit the injured protesters. “We had 5-6 patients on December 20, with injuries in their hands and heads. We did not admit any of them. There was a patient who was shot in the chest. But the family of the injured was being too noisy in the ICU. So we asked them to leave,” Rana said.

MCC, Santosh and Jagdamba hospitals in Meerut.

Down the road from Santosh and Jagdamba is the Meerut Critical Care Hospital. Here, manager Baburao told Newslaundry that MCC has so far admitted only one injured — Om Raj Singh, who was shot during the protests in Bijnor. Newslaundry had previously reported that the Bijnor police used Singh’s injury to give a bogus “communal angle” to the citizenship law protests. 

“It’s dangerous to admit locals here. The neighbourhood around our hospital is predominantly Muslim,” Baburao said. After evading our question about police instructions, he said, “The police did arrive at MCC on December 20, but they only wanted to see the security arrangements here.”

Two other hospitals in the area, Capital and Arjun Hospitals, denied receiving any police instructions on December 20. They claimed that none of the injured came there for treatment that day or the day after.

***

Mohammad Mohsin, 28, was shot in the chest and killed during the protests on December 20. His brother, 36-year-old Mohammad Imran, said he was denied entry at Santosh Hospital and another hospital “next to it”. Jagdamba and MCC are situated on either side of Santosh. 

“Both the hospitals flatly refused to admit my brother. They said they had been asked not to see us. We did not argue and went straight to LLRMMC,” Imran said.

Meerut’s senior superintendent of police Akhilesh Narayan Singh — caught on camera telling protesters to “Go to Pakistan” — told Newslaundry that the administration had not issued such orders to the hospitals. “This is a bhram (rumour) that is being spread,” Singh said. Additional district magistrate of Meerut City, Ajay Tiwari, said such claims were “nonsense” and there was no “prima facie proof” backing them.

Imran alleged that his brother was killed when a police officer fired at him. “The situation was bad in Meerut that day, so Mohsin wanted to stock fodder for the buffalos for the coming days,” Imran said. “He took his thela with him. But the police were firing at the protesters near the chowk. That’s when he was shot.”

The thela that Mohsin took with him when he was shot.

Like most young men across Western Uttar Pradesh killed during the protests, Mohsin was a labourer. He earned a daily wage of Rs 200. 

“We went to the police station with a written complaint. We wanted to file an FIR,” Imran said. “The complaint said my brother was killed by the police. At the police station, a police officer denied that they killed Mohsin. But then his senior added that my brother did die in police firing.”

Mohammad Imran, Mohsin’s brother.

Mohammad Imran’s complaint has still not been converted into an FIR. A copy of it, accessed by Newslaundry, read: “When the applicant’s brother reached Brahmpuri [on December 20], there were people stone-pelting at the police from the tubewell side, and the police was firing at them from the opposite end. Then a bullet from the police side pierced by brother’s chest. He died on the spot…I request you to file and register a police complaint based on my report.”

Similar complaints were filed by the families of Mohammad Aasif and Zahir Ahmad, who were also killed on December 20. The police have not registered an FIR based on these two complaints as well. 

Mohammad Aasif’s brother-in-law, Imran, lives in the lattice streets of Khatti Road in Meerut. “Aasif was out for work that day. In the afternoon, he went for the Friday prayers and was coming home for lunch,” said Imran. “The police had by then entered the streets, and they were shooting at the public. He was shot and lay dead on the street. Some people had to bring back his body when things subsided.”

Aasif, who was an orphan, has left behind three children. The family’s written complaint to the police on December 20 is undersigned by his wife. It says Aasif was shot in the chest when the police opened fire at the protesters.

Mohammad Aasif’s house near Lisarigate, Meerut.

Several streets away, Munshi Ahmad, 70, sits in the tiny verandah of his house. He has narrated the circumstances of the death of his son, Zahir Ahmad, to countless visitors in the past week. While addressing a delegation of Congress leaders, Ahmad had wept.

Zahir Ahmad, 45, had worked as a labourer in Meerut. He was the sole breadwinner of his family, earning Rs 300 every day. His eldest daughter had turned 22, and her wedding was scheduled for early next year. 

“He was sitting near one of the shops smoking a bidi when the police shot him in the head from the main road,” his father said.

Zahir Ahmad’s father, Munshi Ahmad.

Ahmad made this point in his written complaint to the police. The FIR is yet to be filed. When a lawyer from the Supreme Court met him on December 20, she offered the family legal assistance. “Do you want justice?” she asked the father. 

“The son was mine,” he answered. “Why wouldn’t I want justice? The policeman who murdered him should be punished. But I am afraid that if we come forward to fight them in the courts, the police will attack us. The police have registered a case against my dead son.” 

For the next 30 minutes, the lawyer tried to convince Ahmad to take the matter to the courts. She didn’t succeed and left.

***

In Meerut and Sambhal, the Uttar Pradesh police has refused to register an FIR based on complaints alleging that the police shot and killed civilians. This was also true of Bijnor, until Indian Express reported on December 29 that the administration had booked six cops for murder and rioting.

When asked about this, Meerut’s SSP Akhilesh Narayan Singh told Newslaundry that “one incident cannot have two FIRs”. “We do not FIRs from the family. The police have already registered one,” Singh said. Which FIR was he talking about? “The one registered by the police. How the young men have died will be part of that investigation,” Singh responded.

The FIR that Singh mentioned has booked the three dead men — Mohsin, Aasif and Zahir — for attempt to murder, rioting, unlawful assembly and breach of peace, among others.

A week after the December 20 protests in Meerut, the Friday prayers happened peacefully. But silence still blankets the city. Many people have left their homes, fearing retribution from the police. 

On December 27, as we were going to meet the families of the dead, a person on the terrace of the Islamabad police station shouted at us, “Sheher ki fiza kaisi hai?” How is the city feeling?

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