More than three days after a 45-year-old cattle trader was beaten to death, allegedly by a mob in Hapur, a photograph of him being dragged with three policemen in the frame went viral. Hours after the photograph attracted attention, the policemen — Pilkhuwa police station incharge and two constables — were sent to police lines and the state police issued an apology.
“We apologise for the insensitive manner in which the victim was handled by our policemen. All the three policemen seen in the picture have been transferred to police lines and an enquiry has been ordered in the incident. This picture seems to have been taken when the police had reached the spot to shift the injured to a police vehicle and because of non availability of an ambulance at that moment, the victim was unfortunately carried this way. Admittedly the policemen should have been more sensitive in their conduct. The humane concerns got ignored in the urgency of saving a life and maintaining law and order. As is clear from other pictures, the victim was rushed to the hospital in a UP100 PRV,” said a statement by UP DGP headquarters which was also uploaded on Twitter.
The three policemen have been identified as SHO Ashwini Kumar and constables Kanhaiya Lal and Ashok Kumar.
On Monday, Qasim was beaten to death and 65-year-old Samiuddin was severely injured in assault by a mob. Families of the victims alleged the attack was due to a “cow related matter”, while local police insisted it was the fallout of a road rage incident.
The incident took place between 12 noon and 1 pm Monday in the sugarcane fields dividing two villages in Pilakhuwa — Muslim-dominated Madapur and Thakur-dominated Baghera Khurd. Police have arrested Yudhishtir Singh and Rakesh Sisodia on charges of murder. According to the FIR filed at Pilakhuwa police station, the incident was triggered by a scuffle between unidentified bike-borne men and Qasim and Samiuddin. But the family of Samiuddin and the two men arrested have said it was related to “cattle”.
In videos of the incident, Qasim is seen pleading for water as a group of young men stand in the background. A voice asks people to calm down since they have already beaten the man and requests the mob to give him water. Soon after, another person is heard saying that cows were tied in the fields for slaughter.
In a photograph that came up on social media Wednesday night, Qasim is seen being lifted by 4-5 men. With his clothes torn and bloodstains on his arm, the man faces the ground. The image also captured three policemen — the local police station in-charge looking at his phone, another policeman holding up a hand and approaching the camera; the third policeman is on the right and at least 20 men, including children, are seen in the photograph.
The FIR, however, makes no mention of cattle and has been registered on the basis of a complaint by Samiuddin’s brother, police said. With concerns being raised on reasons behind the lynching after villagers of Baghera Khurd and the victim’s family claimed that it happened over “a cow issue”, police said Thursday that they were probing all angles. “Our aim right now is to identify the accused. The FIR mentions 25-30 unknown men as accused since the complainant cannot recognise them. Samiuddin is in hospital and is yet to identify the assailants. Today, Qasim’s brother met me and said in his statement that the incident happened when Qasim and Samiuddin were walking and a motorcycle hit them. When they protested, the men called 20-30 people from the village and they beat them up,” said Sankalp Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Hapur.