‘Why shoot?’ – question for Ghaziabad cops after 3 Muslim men injured in ‘cow smuggling’ case

Ghaziabad: Ghaziabad police shot and wounded three men – Saddam, Kaseem and Zeeshan – in the legs and arrested them on suspicion of smuggling cattle in an alleged “encounter” which took place around 4.30am on Thursday. A cow that the three men were supposed to be transporting was unharmed.

According to Ghaziabad (city) Superintendent of Police, Nipun Agrawal, the suspects first opened fire and injured a police officer, and the three were later shot dead in self-defense.

“Police had received reports at Vijay Nagar Police Station that some cow smugglers were transferring a cow to a Silver Scorpion. When the police chased them, [the suspects’] car hit a tree. When the police asked the accused to surrender, they opened fire on the team and injured a gendarme. In retaliation, they were injured,” the SP said.

Four FIRs were filed under sections of the Indian Penal Code for attempted murder and robbery, as well as under sections of the Arms Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and the UP Cow Slaughter Prevention Act.

According to police sources, the three defendants have also been involved in previous cases of cow slaughter. FIRs were filed in those cases, the sources said, adding that they were linked to the defendants after their arrest in the present case.

Meanwhile, speaking to ThePrint, the families of two of the men – Saddam and Kaseem – cried foul of the operation and expressed fears they could be further harmed in police custody.

Over the past few months, there have been several cases of cow smuggling/slaughtering suspects injured in “encounters” with Uttar Pradesh police.

In November last year, for example, police in Ghaziabad came under fire for shooting seven men in the legs in an alleged cow slaughter. In two separate cases in March and April also, suspected cattle smugglers were shot and injured in Bareilly and Gonda, respectively.

In most cases, the police justified their actions in self-defence.

Read also: 48 hours after Dwarka lynching, accused “gau rakshaks” released, but 5 injured arrested

What the FIRs and the police are saying

According to FIRs, accessed by ThePrint, the suspects were traveling in an SUV with a cow when police began chasing them. When the police team attempted to get the men to stop their vehicle, they did not comply and instead detoured down a muddy road where they lost control and hit a tree, according to FIR.

“The three were told to surrender by the police but instead ran into the fields and opened fire, one bullet hitting an officer’s arm. According to our police training, we opened fire on them in self-defense,” the police account cited in FIR reads, adding that six bullets were fired at the three suspects.

In a statement, Ghaziabad police said three pistols, live ammunition cartridges, sedatives, a rope, an ax and syringes were recovered from the accused. The cow, FIR note, was found in the back of the SUV.

“They were planning to take cows to remote places and after sedating them intended to kill them and then sell them in Delhi,” a senior police officer told ThePrint.

The FIRs also mention that during questioning, the three revealed that they and two other associates had previously smuggled cow meat – in March and May.

Speaking about the alleged prior crimes in which the defendants were involved, the senior police officer said: “Zeeshan has an electricity theft case filed in 2018 and also under sections of the Prevention of Crime Act. cow slaughter, filed in 2015. Additionally, he was also charged with attempted murder and fraud.

Saddam, he added, also has charges against him under the Cow Killing Prevention Act, filed against him in 2016, along with “others under the ICC sections for punishment for using a false mark of ownership and dishonestly receiving stolen goods, and under the NDPS Act.”

“Why did they have to shoot the boys? »

Kaseem and Saddam both live in the same locality of Ghaziabad, which is home to lower-middle-class households and is dominated by Muslims.

Family members and neighbors told ThePrint that the pair left their respective homes on Wednesday night after getting “drunk”, and only learned of the arrest the following day. Some locals also questioned the police version of events.

In Saddam’s shabby brick-walled house, his family members were distraught over the shooting.

“Why did they have to shoot the boys? We are poor, uneducated, but the police should have known not to kill them all. Saddam is also wounded in the forehead,” his aunt Phool Mujra said. “The police force outnumbered them and the car had been in an accident. If the bullet had hit somewhere else, who would have been responsible? »

Saddam’s house in Ghaziabad | Bismee Taskin | The footprint

According to the family, Saddam worked as a construction worker and was not used to carrying firearms.

“On Wednesday night he had a fight with his second wife, who is five months pregnant. He left the house drunk and angry, but we know for a fact he would never have a gun with him,” his sister-in-law said.

Rizwana, Saddam’s wife, also claimed “he would never shoot a gun” and alleged that the police framed him. “The police planted their weapons. We don’t know about the cow…but the cow was safe, right? So why this brutality?

Asked about previous complaints allegedly filed against him, his family members said they did not know.

Only about 80 meters from Saddam’s house is Kaseem’s residence. His wife Gulafsha said he left the house around 9.30pm on Wednesday “for a walk”, telling her he would be back at midnight.

She denied knowing anything about the cow smuggling and said she believed the police arranged the encounter. “They tied the cow to the tree, made a video, leaked it to the media and shot my husband,” she alleged.

Kaseem’s aunt Kher-un-Nisa told ThePrint he was a factory worker and stayed out of trouble.

“Ask the whole Mohallah how is Kaseem. He never answered the elders or was rude to anyone. When he didn’t go to work the next day, his employer at the factory called and inquired…that’s when I saw the news and pictures of him lying on the floor, with blood pouring out of his legs,” she said.

Both families said they feared the men would receive adequate medical treatment in detention.

(Editing by Asavari Singh)

Read also: UP minister’s solution to stray cattle threat: BJP workers will scoop up excrement and perform gaushalas

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