Pierced with screw drivers, scraped with sickles: How a Muslim trader was lynched in UP
By: ANANYA BHARDWAJ
Autopsy report shows Qasim sustained 18 grievous injuries— his ribs were fractured, there were deep cuts on his shoulders, knees and head.
Hapur: Cattle trader Mohammad Qasim, 45, lynched last week in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur, was assaulted by suspected cow vigilantes for over an hour — his body pierced with screw drivers and skin scraped with sickles.
Qasim’s autopsy report, accessed by ThePrint, paints a horrific picture of how he was allegedly mauled by a mob that suspected him of cow slaughter.
According to the report, Qasim, who was brought dead to the hospital, sustained 18 grievous external injuries, with the medical examiner noting contusions on his legs, arms, and knees. There were multiple bruises all over his back, his ribs were fractured, and there were deep cuts on his shoulders, knees, near the abdomen, and on his head. The cause of death was shock and haemorrhage.
“It appears that he was beaten up with blunt but heavy objects and attacked with sharp metallic objects till he collapsed and became semi-conscious. The death was due to immense shock,” a doctor at Saraswati hospital, where Qasim’s autopsy was conducted, told ThePrint.
“It also appears that he sustained several internal injuries…on his private parts. There were several abrasions suggesting that he was kicked around,” the doctor added.
Samaiuddin, an elderly farmer working in his field near the site of the attack at Bajhera Khurd village, tried to help Qasim but was beaten up by the mob too.
A purported video of the assault shows the assailants asking the farmer to confess on camera that he was out to slaughter a cow. A man pulls his beard and slaps him, before Samaiuddin, bleeding from the head, finally says what he is told to.
Samaiuddin, who reportedly sustained multiple fractures in the attack, is in the ICU at a hospital in Hapur.
‘Something beyond hate’
Qasim’s death leaves his wife to fend for five kids with no source of income or savings — their family home is a rented room just big enough to accommodate a single cot and two chairs.
When he left the house to buy cattle on 18 June, Qasim had promised to return in two hours. Hours later, neighbours in the village, not police, informed Qasim’s wife and brother about his death. There had been a scuffle, they were told, and Qasim had sustained injuries.
They got to know the exact nature of the “scuffle” once videos of the attack began to be circulated. “To see Qasim sitting on the ground, bleeding, asking for water, while 20 other men…abused him, heckled him, broke us. I wish I was there to help him,” said Irfan, Qasim’s brother-in-law, “So much happened and police did not care to tell us anything.”
It has been over a week since Qasim was lynched on 18 June, but his family is yet to get a copy of the autopsy report, he added.
“When we asked police for the post-mortem report, they said it was in a sealed envelope and we will have to put in a separate application to get it. What are they trying to hide?” Irfan said.
“We saw the body. There was not even a single place on his body that did not have a wound. He was beaten black and blue, scratched and stabbed. Why so much hate? Just over a rumour?” he added.
“They say it was a normal scuffle and not a hate crime. Is a person mauled like this in a normal scuffle? This is something beyond hate.”
FIR doesn’t mention ‘cow slaughter’ rumour
The FIR identifies road rage as the trigger of the assault. According to it, while Samaiuddin and Qasim were on their way to the village, a motorcycle struck the former. When he protested, it adds, he was beaten up by the bikers, who called some 20-25 more people.
According to the FIR, the duo was then assaulted by the entire mob. It adds that police subsequently reached the spot and took both of them to hospital.
However, the diary entry preceding the FIR at the Pilakhuwa police station tells a different story. According to this account, unidentified men surrounded the duo and beat them up. It does not mention Samaiuddin being hit by a bike and has no reference to road rage.
The FIR names 25 unidentified suspects who have been booked for murder, attempt to murder and rioting.
Police have made three arrests in the case — Yudhishtir Singh, Rakesh Sisodia and Kannu — but the two bikers with whom the scuffle allegedly began remain on the run. Three policemen have been suspended after a viral photograph showed them escorting the accused as they dragged Qasim.
However, neither the FIR nor the diary entry mentions the hate crime angle alleged by the two families, even though videos of the episode purportedly show the mob accusing Qasim of cow slaughter.
“Police can see that the men in the video are thrashing Qasim, calling him names. Abusing him for being a Muslim, a ‘butcher’ who slaughters cows,” Qasim’s brother Saleem said.
“Ek aadmi bheed main kehta hai ki Qasim ko pani pila do, mar jayega. Bahut peet liya, use saza mil gayi. Yahan mar gaya toh mamla ulta padh jayega (One man is heard saying, give him water, he will die. You have beaten him enough, he has got his punishment. If he dies here, it will backfire),” he added, “But no one listens.”
“In fact,” Saleem said, “They drag Qasim out of the field in the presence of police.”
“Qasim was not even a butcher. He traded cattle. Police did not find any cattle remains, dagger or anything to suggest they were to slaughter a cow. We lost our brother just because some fanatics thought that since he was a Muslim, he was there to slaughter a cow,” he added.
Hapur superintendent of police Sankalp Sharma told ThePrint that they were taking the videos into account and, if the need arose, would add relevant sections to the FIR after consulting their legal team.
“The fight started with a sudden provocation and did not have any communal undertones,” he said. “We have suspended the three policemen, including an inspector, who let the men drag around Qasim. We agree that it was a very insensitive gesture.”
“We have formed three teams to identify the men from those videos and make arrests,” Sharma added.
Qasim’s brother, Saleem, and Irfan said they had approached police with a complaint against the men they could identify in the videos, but were turned away as an FIR had already been registered on the complaint of Samaiuddin’s brother, Yaseen.
“Our brother was mercilessly murdered. There is videographic proof that he was beaten up but they are refusing to register a case…the FIR they have registered is far from reality,” Saleem said.
Yaseen agreed, and claimed the FIR was not based on his statement.
“Police concocted a story and wrote the complaint. This is not what I told them. When I confronted them, I was told that the facts can be looked at during the investigation and that my statement was just for initial paperwork,” he added.
According to Yaseen, policemen who came to record Samaiuddin’s statement in ICU took his thumb impression on a paper when he couldn’t offer one.
“Both his thumbs were inked,” Samaiuddin’s nephew Ghulam Mohammad said. “They took his impression on some paper. We are not even aware what paper it was. Samaiuddin is certainly not in a state to give any statement. Since he is the only eyewitness, his statement is important.” Police have denied the allegation.
‘Obviously he will be thrashed’
Meanwhile, Bhajera Khurd remains divided, with some of the locals saying that they see nothing wrong in the fatal assault.
“Why did he (Qasim) have to get into the business of cow slaughter in the first place? Obviously he will be thrashed,” a middle-aged woman said. “Also, he was not beaten up so much, only as much as he deserved.”
When asked to elaborate on what happened on 18 June, she refused and walked away. “There are videos, you can watch them,” she said.
The four videos show more than 30 people, including children, surrounding Qasim, but police are yet to find a single eyewitness.
“We have not been able to find a witness yet, so no statements have been recorded till now. The locals are scared to speak,” SP Sharma said.
“We are now taking the help of the videos to identify the people seen surrounding Qasim, some of whom we will contact for a statement. We are also waiting for Samaiuddin’s condition to get stable, for him to record a statement,” he added.
Qasim’s family, meanwhile, is planning a separate complaint against the policemen seen in the photo for allegedly mistreating Qasim’s body.
“Their suspension is not enough. They have just been sent to police lines for a few weeks. It is just an eyewash. We demand their termination and arrest,” said Saleem.
“They let the perpetrator drag my brother’s body for several metres and then they claim that they took him to hospital. No one even offered him a drop of water. They all stood there and smiled,” he added, “It is a shame that they call themselves police officers.”