Ali is among the 84 people arrested by Saharanpur police in connection with the violence that broke out in the city after Friday prayers on June 10. Soon after the incident, a video showing some men being brutally beaten by cops at the police station went viral. Despite being widely shared, officials maintained that it was “not from the area”.
TOI on Wednesday met the kin of those in the video, who confirmed that they were indeed from Saharanpur. Many also said they were worried that their houses would be bulldozed in a “targeted attack”. “Three people in khaki uniform arrived to inquire about the status of my properties but couldn’t meet me as I was out arranging for my son’s bail,” Aashma alleged.
A similar account was given by Mohd Javed, brother of one Mohd Saif, who could be seen in the viral video wearing a white kurta pajama. He also said that his family was from Saharanpur.
“Some people came to inquire about my power connection, property papers and other bills. When I asked them the reason, they said they were from the nagar nigam. I’m afraid they are planning to bulldoze my house,” he said. Javed claimed that when he went to meet his brother in jail, he saw Saif’s hands and legs were “swollen from the beating”.
Mansoor Badar, a three-time ward corporator, backed Aashma and Javed’s claims. He said, “There are thousands of homes in Saharanpur that have been illegally built. The nagar nigam has only shortlisted 95 properties for construction verification this time. All belonged to those arrested on Friday. This is targeted harassment, this must stop.”
Ashish Kumar, vice-chairman of Saharanpur Development Authority, confirmed that the houses of the riot-accused were being identified, but added that it was a “routine process”.
Many said their family members had been arrested “despite being innocent”. Shaheen Siddiqui, a resident of Mehndi Sarai, Saharanpur, claimed that her son, Asif Siddique, and his friend, Subhan, had gone to inquire about the price of a two-wheeler but were arrested and thrashed by the police. “I haven’t been able to sleep since,” she told TOI. “Many people who were picked up were somewhere else at the time of the protest but no one is allowing them to prove their innocence,” said Noor Alam, corporator of ward 64.
Meanwhile, additional SP of Saharanpur city, Rajesh Kumar, continued to deny the origin of the video. “No one has come forward to report this video. This is not from Saharanpur,” he said. When told that TOI had met the families of those in the video, he said he “couldn’t comment further”.