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Muslim Farmer’s Family Faces Threats Amidst Denial of Political Connections in UP Lynching Case

On September 2, 2022, 50-year-old Dawood Ali Tyagi, a Muslim farmer from Vinaipur in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district was attacked by a group of about 20 men. The attackers, armed with sticks, and sharp weapons, targeted Dawood, leaving him severely injured, according to the family. Despite being rushed to a hospital in Meerut, Dawood succumbed to his injuries.

The incident occurred at about 10: 30 PM, as he sat outside his house on a cot surrounded by his family which included his 23-year-old daughter Lubna, and his two nephews Naeem and Akram. Dawood’s brother had died of an illness a month earlier, and there were guests in his family.

According to the family, a group of eighteen armed youths, on seven to eight motorcycles, rode in and attacked Dawood with sharp weapons. They also had country-made pistols using which they opened fire to scare off the people around. While the others managed to escape, Dawood got seriously injured. 

Following this, on September 3, 2022, an (FIR) was registered at Khekra police station under sections 147 (Punishment for rioting); 148 (Rioting, armed with a deadly weapon); 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence commit­ted in the prosecution of common object); and 302 (Murder) leading to the arrest of four individuals namely – Nikki alias Vikki, Harish, Mohit and Dilip; all residents of Bhagot, a village near Vinaipur, two days later on September 5, 2022. 

“I still don’t understand how and why it happened to my father,” said Shahrukh, Tyagi’s eldest son, while speaking to The Observer Post

“He did not have enmity with anyone. He always minded his own business,” Shahrukh said.

“When someone dies without a reason what can be more frustrating than that?”

Shahurkh

At that time, Shahrukh was preparing for administrative services at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, which would have helped him secure a career as a government official but fate had different plans.

Shahrukh had to return home immediately and has not been able to focus on his studies since. Almost three years later, he is still awaiting justice and a compensatory amount of Rs. 5 lakhs, his family was then promised.

Authorities Downplayed ‘Communal Angle’ 

Despite multiple local eyewitnesses’ accounts that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chants were heard during the attack, officials in Vinaipur kept denying the claim and called it a dispute between the youths in Vinaipur and a nearby village Bhagot.

Gurjars predominantly inhabit Bhagot, while Vinaipur can be seen as a semi-populous village, comprising approximately equal populations of Muslims and Gurjars.

Shahrukh claimed that a few culprits have links with members of groups like Bajrang Dal and internal connections with the Bharatiya Janata Party members.

According to an Article 14 report, dated October 31, 2022, there were allegations of a meeting in Baghot before the incident, where a plan to intimidate Muslims in the area was devised. 

Further, stating the intent, four accused arrested immediately after the killing spoke of creating fear among the Muslims in Vinaipur – “not to kill or loot any but to spread fear,” as confirmed by police officials in a Wire report on October 15, 2022.

Similarly, a BBC ground report based on eyewitness accounts in the region reported the meeting which took place at a temple (location replaced with a school in FIR), where several youths were called to join the attack. The report also said that posts aimed at provoking the attack were shared by one of the four accused arrested – Dilip – on social media.

While Shahrukh and others interpret a communal angle in Dawood’s killing, officials deny involvement of any religious feeling. “These people have an old land dispute. They all have their fields together,” an official was reported as saying in a report dated Dec 7, 2022, in The Caravan.  

Continued Fears & Intimidation

Despite the police’s denial of political connections, Shahrukh and his family live in constant fear, facing threats and bullies even during the court hearings, he claimed of a recent attempt in conversation with The Observer Post. A total of 13 persons have been arrested in the case. However, the majority of them are now out on bail. 

The district collector at that time had urged Dawood’s family to refrain from organizing any protests that could disrupt the peace in the village, a request the family agreed to. Despite the killing of his father,  Shahrukh kept calling for peace to prevail in the village. “I don’t want the atmosphere of the village to be bad and there should not be a riot in the name of my village, which will cause any harm to the society,” he said. 

However, the attack has left Dawood’s family shattered. He was the sole breadwinner, and his aspirations for his son’s future now hang in the balance. 

Compensation Still Awaited 

The district administration had assured the family that action would be taken against the accused, and the family would be given compensation of Rs 5 lakh from the Farmer’s Accidental Insurance scheme and the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund, and that one member of the family would be provided with a government job. 

But almost three years later, none of the promises have been fulfilled, leaving the family in distress. Shahrukh expressed frustration, stating, “The farmer’s accident file is moving from here to there, there has been no hearing on the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund yet.”

Although one of his brothers has been given a temporary contractual position in the Nagar Panchayat Municipal Office, as confirmed by Shahrukh himself. 

Upon inquiry with an official from the SP office in Baghpat, we were informed that an investigation is currently underway in the case. However, despite our efforts to glean more information, the official provided minimal details and directed us to contact the local station in charge for further queries.

The FIR in the case, as assessed by The Observer Post was found to be congruent with how Shahrukh narrated events, shedding light on his father’s killing.  

Efforts were also made to reach out to officials in the DM office of the Baghpat district to inquire about the status of Dawood’s compensation. Regrettably, multiple attempts through phone calls went unanswered.

The report will be updated as soon as we get any pertinent information in the case. 

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