Aligarh Encounter: Families of the killed men left on Road, Nobody ready to help

ALIGARH: On September 20, two men, Naushad and Mustaqeem, were killed in an encounter by UP policein Aligarh. Early morning that day, some people from a few media houses —local photographer — were invited to witness the shootout. Naushad was 17 and Mustaqeem 22. Cops said both were wanted in six murders that had happened in the region.

A month and a half afer that incident, the surviving members of Naushad’s and Mustaqeem’s families — four minor children, four women, among them a young wife of 20 and an old mother of 75, and a mentally unstable uncle — are out on the road in the cold, fighting bitter winter nights and harassment from drunk men who pass by the tent they have pitched. Thrown out by their landlords last week, police then confiscated the Aadhaar cards and other documents of both the families.

“Our landlords suddenly threw us out, saying we are criminals,” said Heena, the 20-year-old widow of Mustaqeem. “We are just women with four small children. We are unable to defend ourselves and have been left completely exposed. We have nowhere to go and no one is willing to help or hear us out.”

Heena said she doesn’t understand why police took away the Aadhaar cards. Police, meanwhile, said it was part of an ongoing probe and that the documents will be returned after the probe ends.

Aligarh SSP Ajay Sahni told that the Aadhaar cards as well as other papers with the family “are all fake”.
Sahni added: “Hand wash samples (done for gunshot residue) of the suspects had tested positive after the encounter, clearly indicating that Naushad and Mustaqeem had fired at the police party. The ballistic report is, however, awaited.”

In the tent at Atrauli’s Bhainspada, pitched on two wobbly bamboo poles, open on one side and with a few tattered clothes heaped on one another for a roof, Rafeeqan, the 75-year-old grandmother, said, “Last week, on Thursday morning, my landlord asked us to vacate our rented room by 8am. We were shocked by the demand and when we asked him for the reason, he only said we all are criminals. He gave us two hours to pack and leave.”

Both Naushad’s and Mustaqeem’s landlords, in action that looked premeditated, almost simultaneously asked the two families to go away. “Khushi is 10 years old, Sofia is 3, Anas is 8. How will they survive the cold?” Rafeeqan asked. “I am old too. The only male member is mentally unstable. How can we protect ourselves in this tent?” 

Heena told that they had been paying a rent of Rs 1,200 per month for the one room accommodation and their landlord, Imran Haji, never had a problem until the encounter killings. “Everything changed after that,” she said. “In fact, my husband was working for Imran, who used to deduct the rent from Mustaqeem’s salary of Rs 3,500. No one is ready to give us rented accommodation now. I am really scared.” 

Asked about it, Imran said, “Two members of their family were involved in murder cases and were killed in an encounter. I don’t want to risk my life, so I have asked them to vacate my place.” 

Families of both the dead men have been insisting that Naushad and Mustaqeem were not killed in an encounter and that they were picked up from home a few days before they turned up dead. Recalling the Sunday evening of September 16, Rafeeqan said, “Mustaqeem had just come home for lunch when police arrived and took him away, along with his brother Salman.” She said she doesn’t know if Salman is in jail or he too has been killed.