A year after Aler encounter: Families ask questions that no one can answer

On April 7 2015, five people accused in the murder of two policemen were killed in an encounter in Aler, Nalgonda after the police allegedly shot all of them in ‘self-defence’. Like most cases of police encounters, this too remain shrouded in mystery and a year later, the families’ questions remain unanswered; their pleas unheard. In the first part of the series, Raqib Hameed Naik speaks to the family of one of the deceased, Syed Amjad Ali.

Riasat Nagar (Hyderabad): In the wee hours of Tuesday, April 7 2015, Syed Imitiaz Ali received a frantic phone call from one of his relatives, asking him to check news about his brother trending on social networking website, Facebook. As he logged into his account, the news making rounds shocked and made him cold for a moment.

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After recovering from the initial shock, Imtiaz tuned to news channels which were flashing the news reports of a police encounter in Telangana’s Nalgonda district.

The news was indeed about his brother, Syed Amjad Ali, then 27 who along with four other under trials, had been gunned down by police, when a 17-member escort police team of Warangal prison was taking them to Hyderabad criminal court for hearing in their case.

Syed Amjed ALi

Syed Amjad Ali

Amjad, along with his cousin brother Mohammed Viqaruddin, then 33, who was also killed in the encounter, had been arrested by Andhra Pradesh, Octopus- the anti-terrorist agency, and the Counter Intelligence Cell back in July, 2010 from Mushriabad area of Hyderabad for their alleged role in the killing of two policemen and firing at intelligence agents as a retribution for the dubious role played by Andhra police against Muslim youths post May 2007, Makkah Masjid blasts in Hyderabad.

As per Police, the duo had also formed Tehreek-e-Ghalba-e-Islam (TGI), the alleged militant outfit which had claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Policemen.

Later, three more persons–Mohammed Zakir, Dr. Mohammed Haneef, Izhar Khan–were arrested on alleged charges of aiding, abetting and providing them logistic support in the same month in 2010, who were also gunned down by the police in the encounter.

Reviewing the day of Encounter

On the day of encounter, Amjad along with four other under trials were being taken to the Hyderabad court for a hearing on jail transfer order from Warangal. The police alleged that while they were on their way, Mohammed Viqaruddin asked them to stop the vehicle for attending the nature’s call in the out skirts of Tangatur Village in Aler. After he got back into the bus, the Police claims he attempted to snatch weapons from the policemen in which the other four under trials also joined him prompting police in escort to open fire in ‘Self defense’ thus killing them all.

“After entering the vehicle, he snatched the Insas weapon of the escort police constable and opened fire. The remaining four accused also tried to snatch weapons, shouting slogans. It is learnt the escort party fired in self defence resulting in the death of Viquar and other four accused,” says a Police statement.

However, on the same day, a photograph of all five youths dead in police van with their hands cuffed to their seats started circulating on social networking websites, which raised serious question over authenticity of police claims of ‘self defense’ and ‘retaliatory exchange of fire’.

“No one from Police called us to inform about my brother’s death. It was only from Social media and News Channels that we came to know about the encounter. On April 8, we went to Warangal to receive the corpse of my brother, which was riddled with bullets,” says Syed Imtiaz Ali 32, elder brother of Syed Amjad Ali.

Syed Ajmed's brother, Imtiaz ALi

Syed Imtiaz Ali

After performing the funeral, the family of Amjad along with families of other victims went to Aler police station in Nalgonda district to file 302 FIR (First Information Report) against police for murder of five under trials but the police officials without fling FIR just made an entry in general diary.

To make matters worse for these families, even before they could try filing an FIR against the police, the Superintendent of Police of Nalgonda filed an FIR of attempt to murder and rioting against the five deceased youths killed in the encounter in the Aler Police Station, Nalgonda district 35/2015, under section 120 b, 143, 147,397,307, 224,332 r/w 149 IPC & S 25 (1), 27 Arms Act.

Cherlapally Prison to Warangal Prison

Initially, Amjad was kept in high-security Cherlapally prison in Hyderabad as his trial was taking place at the Nampally Trial Court but he along with his cousin, Viqar were transferred 147 kms away to the Warangal prison in 2011 after they were accused of thrashing a jail official.

“There was no case registered against them in Warangal. They were deliberately shifted there so that Police could torture them because my brother was accused of killing their fellow policemen’s,” says Imtiaz.

As Imtiaz recollects his meetings with his brother in jail and courts from 2010 to 2015, his profusely-sweating face and stammering was indicative of the grim reality that unfolded in front of them.“During our meetings, he used to say that every time the Police brought them to the Hyderabad court for hearing, the Police men accompanying them on the way used to beat them. They were tortured, badly tortured!” recalls Imtiaz.

“There was a case in Ahmadabad (Gujarat), Police used to take them there but I fail to understand why they were kept in Warangal Jail when there was no case there and trial was going in Hyderabad court which is 147 kms from Warangal,” he adds.

Importantly, the duo cousin brothers Viqaruddin and Amjad, as per Police claims, had admitted after arrest that they had shot dead a constable in Gujarat in 2007 while looting a bank. They were also accused of plotting to assassinate then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and other Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders.

Revenge Killing

Amjad’s brother Imtiaz claims that his brother was killed in a staged encounter. He negates the police claims of weapon snatching and impresses it as a ‘revenge killing’.

“My brother and other four under trials were killed in a revenge attack by police because they knew that it was last chance for them to kill. On the same day, the court was going to issue Jail transfer orders in their favor and they could have been shifted out of Warangal Jail to some other Jail in Hyderabad,” alleges Imtiaz.

A day before the encounter, on Monday, April 6, according to Imtiaz, Viqaruddin, had submitted an affidavit in the court asking that they be transferred from Warangal Prison to some other jail in Hyderabad as they feared for their lives.

A year after Aler encounter: Families ask questions that no one can answer (By Raqib Hameed Naik)

Place of Encounter.

“All of them (five under trials) were aware that police was conspiring to kill them. That is why they moved the affidavit for the transfer of prison in court,” says Imtiaz.

He further claimed that the body of deceased bore torture marks. “Each dead body had minimum 6-7 bullets. They had bruises all over their bodies.”

Amjad chest, says Imtiaz, was pale blue as if he was hit by rifle butts. Besides, he had a bullet in his heart, which indicated that he had been intentionally shot with an aim to kill.

“Besides my brother, Viqaruddin had his nose and teeth broken. Zakir’s jaw was twisted whereas Haneef had severe rashes all over his back. It is a fake encounter, a clear murder!” alleges Imtiaz.

According to the Inquest Panchnama, which is conducted on suspicious killings under section 174 of CRPC by nearest magistrate in presence of two or more witnesses stated that Syed Amjad had received 11 bullet injuries, four on left side of throat, one in middle of chest, one on back bone, two on right shoulder, two on left shoulder and one in shoulder pit.

“His whole body was holed like he wasn’t a human at all,” says Imtiaz before going mum.

After encounter, justice delayed

The repeated request for the copy of Postmortem report by Amjad’s family turned futile as police is yet to handover them a copy of the report .The family had also filed a petition for re postmortem in the court, but it was rejected.

“What kind of Justice is it? Neither they accept our requests for re-post-mortem nor are do they hand over the already-conducted post-mortem report. Are they hiding something?” asks Imtiaz.

Amjad’s family along with the family of three other deceased youths Mohammed Viqaruddin , Dr Mohammed Haneef and Mohammed Zakir have filed a writ petition in the state High Court last year, seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the killings and registration of FIR under section 302 against the Police escort team of Waranagal Jail. However, surprisingly, not even a single hearing has been granted for the writ since last one year.

“Last year, our Lawyers had filed a petition in Court seeking its directions to list the case for hearing. The Judge even passed directions to registry and case was even listed, but later it was suddenly removed from the list,” calims Imtiaz.

Screen shot of lisiting of case on High courts webiste and later removed

Screen shot of lisiting of case on High courts webiste and later removed (2)

Screenshot of listing of case on High courts website and later removed.

“There is pressure from higher ups to shield the accused because they are aware of the truth that they will get exposed if the case is listed for hearings,” he adds

Surprisgnly, when TCN tried to cross check the claims of Imtiaz, regarding the removal of the case listed from registry, we came across the screenshot of High Court webiste which explicitly corroborates his point that case was first listed for hearing them abruptly removed.

For Imitiaz, who still believes he will get justice, says, “Now Judiciary is our last resort. If hearings in this case goes on, only then we can anticipate justice,” he says.” otherwise we are feeling betrayed from the system,” he adds after a deep silence.