Gaping holes found in police probe into Kasganj violence
New Delhi : Police investigation into the January 26 communal rioting that left one person dead in Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj district is riddled with "gaping holes" and is biased in favour of a particular group, says an independent probe released here on Wednesday.
"The Truth of Kasganj: Sham Police Probe..." alleges that the police investigation into the violence had been "grossly compromised in a blatant attempt to protect" members of a Hindutva group.
The report said the police have effected "the fraud" by registering two First Information Reports (FIR) as "a single FIR would have made it difficult to pin the blame for the homicide of Chandan Gupta "on the Muslims alone" because "Hindus, too, fired guns".
It also details the sequence of events that took place on January 26 this year before and after the communal violence broke out in Kasganj, 220 km east of here.
The violence left Chandan Gupta dead and property worth several crore of rupees destroyed in firing, arson and vandalism.
According to police, the violence began after a group of Muslims obstructed a group of Hindus taking out a motorcycle procession - Tiranga Yatra - to mark the Republic Day.
The procession was organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is allied to the ruling BJP in the state, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
The police named 28 men, including the one who allegedly fired the fatal shot. Most were arrested over two weeks after the incident.
But the report claiming that the police probe had been shoddy said the first FIR by Ripudaman Singh, SHO Kasganj Kotwali Police Station, "riddled with falsehoods, its account varying widely from the sequence of events as borne by the statements of policemen, witnesses and the accused".
The most understated part of the three-month investigation is that Kasganj Muslims had gathered to celebrate the Republic Day with a flag-hoisting 400 metres from Bilram Gate crossing at the Abdul Hameed Chowk. The crossing is named after the soldier who died fighting in Kashmir in 1948.
The report said witnesses reported that the conflict began when the Hindus gate-crashed that programme which the Muslims have held annually for years with their motorcycles and began forcibly removing the chairs placed in the alley to pass through, chanting "Vande Matram" and "Jai Shri Ram".
"The CCTV footage of the incident has been available to the police. And yet, they have refused to include this footage as evidence in either of the two charge-sheets in the case," the report reads.
It also said there were gaping holes in the sequence of events listed in the first and the second FIRs.
"The second FIR said news of Chandan's death reached the police station at 12.17 a.m. on January 27. But a General Diary entry at 1.15 p.m. on January 26 showed a ward boy had already brought to the police station a hospital memo reporting his death.
"As information of Chandan's death had been received in the day, the first FIR should have covered it. No explanation was given why the second FIR was needed," it added.
The report was launched by a number of number of social activists including Sandeep Pandey, Teesta Setalvad, Mohammad Shoaib and Retired Uttar Pradesh IPS officer S.R. Darapuri.
Shoaib, a Lucknow-based senior lawyer who has helped several young men to get acquitted from terror cases, said that he will file a PIL based on the report and demand a fresh investigation.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who was not physically present in the launch but sent a video, said: "Police supporting Hindutva is dangerous."
The social activists raised the issue during their speeches that in the past four years, the country was facing a new kind of issue. "Holding a flag is now a passport to do anything in this country," Pandey said.
Darapuri, on the other hand, said the police were following the orders issued from Lucknow.
The report by freelance journalist Ajit Sahi has been endorsed by Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York; Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai; Indian American Muslim Council, Washington; Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, New Delhi; Rihaee Manch, Lucknow; South Asia Solidarity Group, London, and United Against Hate, New Delhi.
Speaking to IANS, Sahi said: "I have not introduced any fact myself. I have just examined the investigation done by the police."