November 10, 2021
A Muslim man died in police custody in Uttar Pradesh state on November 10 in what appears to be a clear case of extrajudicial killing. Bizarrely, the police claimed that Altaf, the 22-year-old had committed suicide by hanging himself from a bathroom faucet.
Altaf had voluntarily come to the police station in Kasganj city as he was accused of kidnapping a woman and forcing her to marry him. Social media and news reports have severely criticized the police’s claim of suicide, with pictures of the bathroom at the police station showing that the faucet was merely two feet high.
Altaf Chand Miyan, Altaf’s father, said: “I handed over my child to the police. They are involved in his death.” Altaf’s death brings attention to three chronic fault-lines in India’s police: extrajudicial killing, targeting of Muslims, and false allegations of forced marriages against Muslims.
Hindu extremist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal have forced Muslim standup comedian Munawar Faruqui to cancel his shows in Raipur city of Chhattisgarh state after they threatened to respond with violence at the events.
Faruqui was scheduled to perform in Raipur on 14 November. The extremists wrote a letter to the police openly threatening violence to stop the show. Goons from the VHP, which is allied with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also met senior police officials on November 9 to demand that the shows be cancelled. They falsely claimed that the comedian had mocked Hindu gods in the past.
Speaking to NDTV television news station Faruqui said: “The bigger issue is that for these three shows, a total of 1,500 people bought tickets a month ago. I feel bad for them. This is a sad reality with which many people in this country are living.”
Faruqui has been a target of Hindutva groups for a year. In January, he was arrested in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh on the basis of a complaint filed by a BJP politician’s son. The complainant had alleged that the comedian was going to make objectionable statements about Hindu gods. Incredibly, he spent over a month in prison.
An investigation by the BBC of multiple cases of lynchings of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh has found that the police probes into the cases were biased against the victims and did not take any action against the culprits. None of the victims the BBC spoke to said they considered the police investigation unbiased.
In no case did the police even file charges against the accused even though they were named in the First Information Reports (FIR), which are the formal complaints that launch investigation and prosecution, according to the report. In one case, the victim’s family had to leave the village. The report investigated four lynching cases in Sonbhadhra, Bulandshahar, Muradabad and Mathura districts.
According to a 2019 report by Human rights organization Amnesty International, Uttar Pradesh reported the most cases of hate crimes. The police did not arrest the accused, while those who were arrested were quickly out on bail. In some cases, the victims were forced to compromise.
Uttar Pradesh is ruled by Modi’s BJP, and the state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is a well-established Islamophobic hate-monger. His government has carried out targeted extrajudicial killings of hundreds of Muslims and Dalits in his five-year rule. His government’s criminal behavior towards Muslims has seen thousands arrested on false charges, while their attackers, who are affiliated to the BJP, are never charged.