Statement Of UP Teen Burnt To Death “Tutored”: Police. Mother Refutes Claim


Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh: A Muslim teenager died after he was allegedly set ablaze by a group of men for refusing to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the southeastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) district of Chandauli, the fifth reported instance where a Muslim was alleged to have been forced to do so in July 2019.

On July 28, 2019, 15-year-old Abdul Khaliq Ansari was found with 45% of his body burnt in Syed Raja area, 10 km from his house in Lohia Nagar of Chandauli. He was rushed to the district hospital and was later shifted to the divisional hospital in Varanasi.

After offering prayers early on July 28, 2019, Ansari was walking along the Dudhari bridge when he was “kidnapped” by four persons with covered faces, he told police in a statement recorded on video. He was being treated at Varanasi’s Kabir Chaura Hospital when the video was shot. The men asked him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and when he refused, poured kerosene over him and set him ablaze, he told officers who took him to the district hospital.

Two days later, while being taken to a larger hospital in Varanasi, 36 km to the northwest, he omitted mention of the slogan in another statement--which turned out to be his dying declaration--to a magistrate.

In his first statement, Ansari said two men pinned his arms, he heard an attacker say: “Sunil mitti ka tel daal de aur maachis laga de, ye khud mar jayega (Sunil, pour kerosene and light a match, he will die).”

The Syed Raja police station filed a first information report under sections 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

10 attacks on Muslims refused to say Jai Shri Ram

In the two months since the Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power at the Centre in May 2019, there were at least 10 incidents--including two deaths--where Muslims were attacked after being forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

On June 17, 2019, 27-year-old Tabrez Ansari was killed by a mob in Jharkhand after he was tied to a pole, beaten and forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’. On July 11, 2019, a group of madrassa students in UP’s Unnao were beaten for refusing to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

Since May 2019, there have been 16 hate crimes motivated by religious bias, according to Hate Crime Watch, a FactChecker database that records such crimes. In 10 of these, the victims were forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

Since 2009, Hate Crime Watch has recorded 301 crimes motivated by religious bias--leading to 101 deaths and at least 741 injuries. More than a fifth (22% or 67 of 301) of the attacks were in UP, which accounted for 19 deaths.

Nationwide, since 2009, Hindus, 79.8% of the country’s population as per Census 2011, were the victims in 14% of hate crimes. Muslims, 14% of the population, were the victims in 60% of the crimes, and Christians, 2.3% of the population, were victims in 14% attacks.

Victim staged events for attention: police

The Chandauli police denied a religious bias motivation in Ansari’s death. Ansari and his mother “were tutored by anti-social elements to get more traction”, Chandauli Superintendent of Police (SP) Santosh Kumar told FactChecker, adding that Ansari told a different version and provided different locations for the attack in each of his three narrations.

Ansari told police who rushed him to the district hospital, that he was attacked by four youths in Manrajpur and set ablaze, Kumar said.

“When I spoke to him, he told me that the incident happened in Chateen village which is 2 km away from Manrajpur and in the opposite direction,” said Kumar. “On the way to the divisional hospital in Varanasi, he told the police that he was kidnapped by four youths from Dudhari bridge who set him on fire in the fields near the Bhatija mod (crossing).”

Closed-circuit camera footage does not corroborate any of these versions, Kumar told FactChecker, adding that footage from a camera on the west side of Manrajpur showed a youth on fire walking around 5.15 am.

A newspaper hawker saw Ansari set himself on fire and run near Manrajpur, Kumar told FactChecker. Ansari’s clothes were found 1.5 km away near Chateen village.

FactChecker could not independently verify the hawker’s version, and the police refused to connect this reporter with him.

Mother denies suicide

Ansari was a practising fire-eater. Ansari’s mother Saidul Nisha has nine other children. Her husband and Ansari’s father Zulfiquar is a carpet weaver. The family lives in a two-room house in Syed Raja area in Chandauli.

“My child is dead and he was burnt down,” Saidul Nisha, the mother of the deceased, said. “Now the police is coming up with different theories like he set himself on fire, but it is wrong. They killed Mohammad [as Ansari was called],” she said.

“A boy has been killed and the police is trying to close the case by saying that his statement was inconsistent,” Sahab Ansari, a neighbour, said. “The police must have recorded the statement and should make it public.”

Due to heavy police deployment--seven men until last week--at Ansari’s house, the neighbours are unable to speak to the family, Sahab Ansari said. “It is not fair. The police is diverting (attention from) the case.”

Zafar Hussain, another neighbour of the family and a former corporator, said there is no communal angle to this incident. He alleged that Ansari’s mother Saidul Nisha is not telling the truth. “She knows everything. Tell me why was her son out for the whole night,” he said, adding that this is “purely an attempt to disrupt the peace of the area”.

When he took the case to the police, Hussain claimed, Saidul Nisha asked him to get a few random Yadav names written in the FIR. “I declined it,” he said, “I also mourn the death of the young boy but it is very much clear that the family is not telling the truth.”

(Sharma is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh: A Muslim teenager died after he was allegedly set ablaze by a group of men for refusing to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the southeastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) district of Chandauli, the fifth reported instance where a Muslim was alleged to have been forced to do so in July 2019.

On July 28, 2019, 15-year-old Abdul Khaliq Ansari was found with 45% of his body burnt in Syed Raja area, 10 km from his house in Lohia Nagar of Chandauli. He was rushed to the district hospital and was later shifted to the divisional hospital in Varanasi.

After offering prayers early on July 28, 2019, Ansari was walking along the Dudhari bridge when he was “kidnapped” by four persons with covered faces, he told police in a statement recorded on video. He was being treated at Varanasi’s Kabir Chaura Hospital when the video was shot. The men asked him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and when he refused, poured kerosene over him and set him ablaze, he told officers who took him to the district hospital.

Two days later, while being taken to a larger hospital in Varanasi, 36 km to the northwest, he omitted mention of the slogan in another statement--which turned out to be his dying declaration--to a magistrate.

In his first statement, Ansari said two men pinned his arms, he heard an attacker say: “Sunil mitti ka tel daal de aur maachis laga de, ye khud mar jayega (Sunil, pour kerosene and light a match, he will die).”

The Syed Raja police station filed a first information report under sections 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

10 attacks on Muslims refused to say Jai Shri Ram

In the two months since the Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power at the Centre in May 2019, there were at least 10 incidents--including two deaths--where Muslims were attacked after being forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

On June 17, 2019, 27-year-old Tabrez Ansari was killed by a mob in Jharkhand after he was tied to a pole, beaten and forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’. On July 11, 2019, a group of madrassa students in UP’s Unnao were beaten for refusing to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

Since May 2019, there have been 16 hate crimes motivated by religious bias, according to Hate Crime Watch, a FactChecker database that records such crimes. In 10 of these, the victims were forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

Since 2009, Hate Crime Watch has recorded 301 crimes motivated by religious bias--leading to 101 deaths and at least 741 injuries. More than a fifth (22% or 67 of 301) of the attacks were in UP, which accounted for 19 deaths.

Nationwide, since 2009, Hindus, 79.8% of the country’s population as per Census 2011, were the victims in 14% of hate crimes. Muslims, 14% of the population, were the victims in 60% of the crimes, and Christians, 2.3% of the population, were victims in 14% attacks.

Victim staged events for attention: police

The Chandauli police denied a religious bias motivation in Ansari’s death. Ansari and his mother “were tutored by anti-social elements to get more traction”, Chandauli Superintendent of Police (SP) Santosh Kumar told FactChecker, adding that Ansari told a different version and provided different locations for the attack in each of his three narrations.

Ansari told police who rushed him to the district hospital, that he was attacked by four youths in Manrajpur and set ablaze, Kumar said.

“When I spoke to him, he told me that the incident happened in Chateen village which is 2 km away from Manrajpur and in the opposite direction,” said Kumar. “On the way to the divisional hospital in Varanasi, he told the police that he was kidnapped by four youths from Dudhari bridge who set him on fire in the fields near the Bhatija mod (crossing).”

Closed-circuit camera footage does not corroborate any of these versions, Kumar told FactChecker, adding that footage from a camera on the west side of Manrajpur showed a youth on fire walking around 5.15 am.

A newspaper hawker saw Ansari set himself on fire and run near Manrajpur, Kumar told FactChecker. Ansari’s clothes were found 1.5 km away near Chateen village.

FactChecker could not independently verify the hawker’s version, and the police refused to connect this reporter with him.

Mother denies suicide

Ansari was a practising fire-eater. Ansari’s mother Saidul Nisha has nine other children. Her husband and Ansari’s father Zulfiquar is a carpet weaver. The family lives in a two-room house in Syed Raja area in Chandauli.

“My child is dead and he was burnt down,” Saidul Nisha, the mother of the deceased, said. “Now the police is coming up with different theories like he set himself on fire, but it is wrong. They killed Mohammad [as Ansari was called],” she said.

“A boy has been killed and the police is trying to close the case by saying that his statement was inconsistent,” Sahab Ansari, a neighbour, said. “The police must have recorded the statement and should make it public.”

Due to heavy police deployment--seven men until last week--at Ansari’s house, the neighbours are unable to speak to the family, Sahab Ansari said. “It is not fair. The police is diverting (attention from) the case.”

Zafar Hussain, another neighbour of the family and a former corporator, said there is no communal angle to this incident. He alleged that Ansari’s mother Saidul Nisha is not telling the truth. “She knows everything. Tell me why was her son out for the whole night,” he said, adding that this is “purely an attempt to disrupt the peace of the area”.

When he took the case to the police, Hussain claimed, Saidul Nisha asked him to get a few random Yadav names written in the FIR. “I declined it,” he said, “I also mourn the death of the young boy but it is very much clear that the family is not telling the truth.”

(Sharma is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

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