SHAFAQNA – “It was a fake encounter,” Mohammad Ahmed, father of Viqaruddin Ahmed, one of five men who were killed a few days ago by Indian police, told OnIslam.net bitterly.
Viqaruddin was shot dead inside a bus along with four other under-trial prisoners while they were being shifted to a court in Hyderabad from a jail in Warangal for hearing in a trial.
According to his father, the same group was asked by police to run away while they were being shifted earlier from one jail to another in the southern state of Telangana.
But the men did not follow the order from the police and refused to get down from the van there because, they said later, in a conspiracy the policemen perhaps wanted to shoot them from the back and pass the incident as the case of a “police shoot-out during an attempted escape” by the prisoners.
Days later, the same group of five under-trial prisoners was found killed inside a bus. Authorities reported that the men attempted to snatch the guns from police when they were shot dead.
“Police had been trying to kill them for some time. They succeeded this time. The police version of the story that they tried to snatch guns from police cannot be true,” Mohammad Ahmed said.
“It’s clear from the pictures that have appeared in the media that the men were handcuffed and even shackled to their seats…We are 100% sure that police murdered my son and four others in cold-blood.”
On Monday, Viqaruddin filed an affidavit to a court in Telangana capital Hyderabad pleading that he be shifted from Warangal district jail to one close to the court because he feared of being killed by police during a long journey.
But the five men- all accused of killing three policemen and arrested between 2007 and 2010, got killed on Tuesday in the morning, a few hours before the Hyderabad court was to decide on Viqaruddin’s affidavit.
Three of the killed men- Viqaruddin, Amjed Ali and Mohsammad Zakir were from Hyderabad. Two others, Izhar Khan and Mohammad Haneef were from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, respectively.
Soon after the five men got killed, Telangana police issued a statement saying that on the way to Hyderabad, Viqaruddin returned to bus following a toilet break without handcuffs to snatch the gun of a police officer.
“However, the police officer managed to pull off the magazine in the scuffle but the four remaining under-trials pounced on two other policemen nearby and tried to snatch their weapons. The other policemen in the bus retaliated and shot them dead,” the police statement said.
Soon after the killings, pictures and video clips that appeared in the media showed the bodies of five handcuffed men lying in a pool of blood inside the bus.
A picture in which Viqaruddin’s body laid on a seat, apparently holding a rifle while one of his hands was shackled to the seat by the handcuffs and a chain, went viral in the social media.
“My son was tied to the seat- the picture clearly shows that. It was impossible for him to snatch a police rifle or aim to kill any of them,” Ahmed said.
With the prosecution failing to prove the charges against the five men, they were all in the process to be acquitted in the court soon, Mr Ahmed said.
“Can anyone think to attack police or plan an escape at such a point of the trial? Police killed them in desperation. I am 100% sure that it was a fake encounter,” he said.
Imtiyaz Ali, brother of another victim Amjed Ali, said that he too believed that the police killed the men in a fake encounter.
“Why didn’t they allow the trial to complete and let the court decide my brother’s fate, if he committed any crime as they charged? Police were not supporting the trial recently as their evidences in support of the charges fell flat in the court,” Ali told OnIslam.net.
“Out of frustration they killed the five innocent men.”
Independent Inquiry Urged
Body of Viqaruddin Ahmed, one of the five Muslim under-trial prisoners lying in the bus.
Amid rising outcry from Muslim leaders and human rights activists against the killing of the five Muslims, Telangana police insisted that the five men indeed sought to attack the policemen and that the policemen opened fire in self-defense.
Noting that the case of the killing of five Muslims apparently involved “serious violation of human rights of individuals”, India’s National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the government of Telangana calling for a fact-based report on the killings.
Pointing to a video footage Amnesty International noted that all five men had appeared to be handcuffed when they were shot.
“Impunity for extrajudicial executions is a serious issue in India. Authorities in Telangana need to urgently conduct an independent criminal investigation into the case to determine if it involved extrajudicial executions disguised as ‘encounter’ killings,” Abhirr V P, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India said in a statement.
Condemning the killings, Muslim community leaders demanded independent judicial inquiry in the case.
“After police killed the men in cold blood their top brass planted a story which is nothing but a bundle of lies. They were handcuffed and unarmed, and they attempted to overpower a posse of 17 armed policemen. They are telling a cock-and-bull story,” Lateef Mohammad Khan, general secretary of Hyderabad-based Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC), told OnIslam.
“It seems that some high level police officers planned the killing of the five men to send a message to the Muslim community that their lives are left at the mercy of the police.”
Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, a New Delhi-based umbrella body of Indian Muslims organizations said: “India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his home minister say that the Indian Muslims are immune to terrorism.”
“But the country’s security agencies appear to work in tandem to push Muslim youth to terrorism.”