Ranchi, Jharkhand - Mohammad Parveez is incosolable. His only son 14-year-old Mohammad Mudasir died on Sunday after he was hit by a bullet allegedly fired by the police, as they cracked down on protestors in Ranchi.
Over the last few days, protests have erupted across the country over derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad by two leaders of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On 10 June, two teenagers– Mohammad Mudasir, 14 and Mohammad Sahil, 19– were killed and over 20 others were injured after police allegedly fired on protestors in Ranchi.
City Superintendent of Police Anshuman Kumar confirmed to BOOM that two people have died in the violence and scores have been injured including some police officers.
Several parts of the Jharkhand capital – Ranchi were put under curfew after the situation turned tense in the city. Muslims of Hindpiri area of Ranchi district, a densely packed Muslim residential area also famous for its lively shopping hub, assembled outside the mosques and marched towards the Mahatma Ghandi main road.
They were demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal for their remarks against the Prophet. On June 5, the BJP had suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal after a diplomatic backlash from many Muslim-majority countries.
Speaking to BOOM, a local who wanted to remain anonymous, said, "Some people who gathered at the temple situated on the main road were firing bullets from the top of it. The police were also firing at us. Because of those bullets, the situation turned tense," he said.
However, the city SP rejected the allegations that the police have fired bullets at the protestors. "There were some bullets fired from the protestors' side first, one of our cops has been hit by a bullet. We did not fire any bullets. This is all a lie," he told BOOM.
He further said that the situation in the city is under control and authorities have deployed additional troops in the city to maintain law and order.
A 'Peaceful' Protest That Turned Violent
Mudasir's uncle Shahid Ayoubi said that many across India, and even outside of it have been protesting against the "unacceptable" remarks by Nupur Sharma on Prophet Mohammad. "We were also protesting," he said.
He blamed the police for his nephew's killing and expressed that police couldn't handle the situation well. "What does it mean when they (police) started firing directly on the crowd? It is clear that they aimed to kill us. Their actions worsened the situation in the city," he told BOOM, adding, "No one will believe us because we are Muslims."
Ayoubi claimed that the protest was peaceful before the police cracked down on them.
"Mudasir was a young boy. He had no idea that the protest could turn into violence. He was at the front row in the protest. So he became an easy target of police's bullets. One bullet had hit his skull," Ayoubi said, breaking down.
He believes that the ruling party has turned a blind eye towards Muslims which has given impunity to hate mongers who target them.
"What was wrong in protesting against someone who divides society and attacks other religions? We are witnessing this situation because certain people in power gain politically from such situations," he said.
Ayoubi told BOOM that even police personnel were chanting slogans of Jai Hind and Jai Shri Ram while firing bullets.
Mudasir was the only son of his family. His father, a cart vendor, had been working hard to provide his son a good life. "His results of 10th grade are yet to be declared. I cannot face his parents. They have gone completely quiet as if they are also dead after they lost their son," he said.
The bodies of Mudasir and Sahil were handed to the families late on Friday night. Their last rites were performed on Saturday. Hundreds took part in the teenagers' funerals, amid sobs.
Both the families demand that authorities start investigation in their cases and "bring their killers to the public".
Like Mudasir, 19-year-old Mohammad Sahil, a first year college student had gone to Hindpiri for Friday prayers. Soon after the prayers, when he was returning home, he encountered clashes that were going on in the area.
Sahil, 19, was hit by a bullet in his back.
Mohammad Suhaib, his elder brother, told BOOM that police were directly firing on people aiming to hit someone's heart or head. "Police did not given any warning to the protestors. There was no aerial firing, or rubber bullets could have been fired. Nor did they (police) fire teargas or water cannons. Police simply hit civillians with bullets. This is a cold blooded murder," alleges Suhaib.
He told BOOM that Sahil was hit by a bullet in his back, allegedly fired by the police when he was running for safety. The bullet pierced his left rib and abdomen, leaving him in a pool of blood. "I immediately rushed to the hospital. After the surgery, he survived for only three hours," recalled Suhaib.
The 26-year-old said that his brother Sahil asked him to take care of their parents before he succumbed to injuries. "Do not let Abu and Mom cry if I don't survive," Sahil had told him moments before he died.
"He had a smile on his face when he breathed his last. I cannot ever forget that smile. This is a doomsday for us," said a sobbing Suhaib.
Sahil had never been to protest before. He said that the 19-year-old was confined to his studies and was doing a part time job at a battery store to manage his personal and study expenses.
"People trust the police; they see them as saviors. But what happens when the police turns to brutal killing of common people?" Suhaib alleged that after the post mortem, the police tried forcing them to bury his teenager brother in the dead of the night.
The family, he said, refused to do so and performed his last rites at around 3 pm on Sunday. They have filed an FIR in Sahil's killing.
Irfan Ansari, a Muslim legislator from the Congress, which is part of the ruling coalition in the state, blamed the police for the way the protests were handled. "The job of the police is to protect, not to shoot," he said in a tweet in Hindi. Ansari demanded Rs 50 lakhs as compensation and a government job each for the families of the deceased.
Scores of Muslims from various states, including the northern Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and the capital New Delhi on Friday staged a protest over the remarks against the Prophet.
In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 255 persons were arrested across nine districts in connection with the stone-pelting and illegal gathering during protests against the comments made on the Prophet. The Bengal BJP has submitted a memorandum to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar seeking deployment of paramilitary forces in the state over the violent protests in Howrah and Murshidabad. At least 60 people have been arrested there. Internet was also suspended in some neighbourhoods.
Meanwhile, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to investigate the violence in Jharkhand's Ranchi.