A 52-year-old man has died after a midnight raid on his house in Singar village in connection with the communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh district. While Jabbar Khan’s family claimed that he died after being beaten up by the police, police have denied the allegation and said that he was just “shocked” by the raid.
Khan’s son Shahid said his father’s body was buried hours after the raid on August 2. Asked why he did not file a complaint, Shahid said, “We are poor people and won’t gain anything from it. We have already lost our father.”
The raid in Singar was carried out in connection with an FIR filed at Bichhor police station against unidentified persons by sub inspector Rajbir Singh on August 1 under multiple IPC sections, and provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property and Arms Acts, according to the police.
According to the FIR, a 300-strong mob armed with lathis, stones and rods had allegedly assembled from Singar and nearby villages at the Shiv Mandir in Nuh, to protest the VHP’s Jalabhishek Yatra on July 31, and set two motorcycles and a car on fire.
Krishan Kumar, Nuh police public relations officer, said the police is carrying out searches across the district for those who suspectedly participated in the violence last week. More than 100 FIRs have been filed in parts of Haryana after the recent communal violence. Kumar said most of the searches are carried out at night.
Bichhor Station House Officer Malkhan Singh said 16 people were detained during midnight searches at Singar on August 2. He said that except 48-year-old Hakam Ali, who was arrested for “spreading rumours”, the rest were released the same day.
Asked about Khan’s death, SHO Singh said he had died due to “shock” and not because of any police action. Asked about a postmortem, he said no complaint was filed.
Khan is survived by his wife, a daughter, and eight sons.
‘I told them to check CCTV, but they kept saying I am a rioter’
Newslaundry met other individuals who were picked up by the police and later released as they were found to be “innocent” with “no evidence of participating in violence”.
These villagers and their families alleged that police barged into their house, thrashed them with lathis, did not give them a chance to even explain where they were at the time of violence, and assaulted them at the police station.
Vakeel, a shopkeeper in his 30s who lives around 500 metres away from Khan’s house, showed bruises over his legs, neck and back. “At about 4.30, the police broke open the gate of my house…they started beating me and dragged me to the bus...I told them I was at my shop at the time of the violence near Shiv Mandir…I also suggested that they can check CCTV footage from my shop. But they did not listen.”
He was released around 10 am. “I had also told them they could ask my Hindu neighbours about me but they kept on insisting that I am a rioter. They punched, slapped and beat me with lathis.”
Salim, a 40-year-old goat herder, said he was sleeping on his roof when the police barged into his house. Pointing to the wounds on his back, he claimed that “this is where they hit me with lathis for no reason”. He was also released around 10 am.
Haris, his neighbour, alleged that Salim is a mental patient but “they did not show any mercy. He was screaming and crying when police dragged him out of his house.”
The families of three more villagers, Nawab (38), Hasan(48) and Muji (50) had similar stories to share. The families of Hasan, a truck driver, and Muji, a milkman, claimed that they are in hiding because they fear the police may come for them again.
Asked about claims that villagers were beaten up, police officials at Bichhor police station refused to comment.
‘Fear in Singar village’
Notably, the yatra arrives at Radha Krishan temple in Singar each year, but it was stopped in Nuh amid the violence this time.
Singar has a population of over 19,000 and most of them are Muslims. The village’s literacy rate is 29 percent as compared to the 77 percent national rate. Most of the villagers work as heavy transport vehicle drivers.
Khemchand, the priest at the Radha Krishan Mandir in Singar, said it’s the first time he has seen violence. “Hindus and Muslims have been living here peacefully since forever. In fact, Muslims always help us. Like whenever any Hindu yatra by VHP or Bajrang Dal passes by this temple, they come and serve the participants, and let it pass peacefully. Muslims also visit this temple.”
The fear of the police seems palpable.
“We are constantly living in fear. My blood pressure soars as the night approaches. The men start leaving the village. Our children get worried,” said Tabassum, a 60-year-old villager.
Muslim residents in Singar claim that youngsters sleep in farms nearby instead of their homes to escape the midnight raids.
“That’s why we could not find anyone to pick up on the second day of the raid,” claimed a police official.