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Fact-finding team on Kasganj violence questions police role

A fact-finding team that visited Kasganj on February 2, 2018, in its report raised serious questions over the state police's integrity and its role.

Fact-finding team on Kasganj violence questions police role

New Delhi: A fact-finding team that visited Uttar Pradesh's violence-hit Kasganj on February 2, 2018, in its report, released on Monday, raised serious questions over the state police's integrity and its role. The activists also expressed concern at the silence of political parties at the incident.

The members of the team also categorically dismissed claims that the incident was a spontaneous act of communal violence and asserted that it was a "pre-meditated, well-planned and engineered act of violence and spreading communal hatred", and feared that many more such incidents might be seen in near future.

The team, led by retired IPS officer SR Darapuri and consisting senior journalists Amit Sengupta, Hasanul Banna and Aleemullah Khan, activists Rakhi Sehgal, Banojyotsna Lahiri, Khalid Saifi, Mohit Pandey and others visited the Uttar Pradesh town where communal violence had erupted on January 26, and spoke with locals of both communities apart from local administration and police.

They underlined that amid the "biased" administration and "rabid" attempts by the Hindu right wing elements to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims, the silver lining is that people from both communities are still feeling for each other and mourning each others' losses.

However, the Hindu neighbours are not willing to come out and identify the culprits, probably for fear of their own safety, the report pointed out.

The losses of property have been suffered only by the Muslims whose 27 shops were looted and set on fire by the mobs and the police avoided lodging their FIRs, the report said.

On the death of Chandan Gupta, the only person killed in the violence, the report underlined that police statements in media "are at odds with pictures of the deceased about the entry of the bullet".

"The wound is on the upper arm, not in the collar bone. The angle and location of the bullet wound are different," it said, adding that there is no certainty on at which place Gupta was shot and died or who shot him.

On the role of police, the report said: "The first FIR that was filed after the violence was FIR no59/2018. This was filed by SHO Ripudaman Singh. The FIR names four Muslims -- Nasiruddin, Akram, A. Khan and Taufiq. But not a single Hindu was named in the FIR, although the report mentions both communities were involved in the clash."

"No temples were attacked but two mosques were attacked. The police, report however, omits this fact of attack on a religious place which is a very serious crime," it added.

The team also found that among those arrested or detained by police, Muslims are more than double in number that of Hindus despite the fact that no Hindu property was damaged or a temple desecrated whereas two mosques were completely burnt.

"No leader of any political party has reached out to the Muslim community, or the Hindu shopkeepers and locals, or tried to visit them and express solidarity even though messages were sent to them. There was no peace initiative by the political class...perhaps for fear of being labelled as minority appeasers," the activists said.