The Uttar Pradesh police have admitted that the four men - Sarfuddin, Sijid Ali, Banne Khan and Asif - who were arrested on December 5 in connection with the Bulandshahr mob violence, are innocent. No evidence has been found against them. After 17 days in custody, the police will release them after court procedure.
Sarfuddin and Sijid Ali were named in the First Information Report (FIR) by Yogesh Raj, the Bajrang Dal activist, who is a key suspect in the mob violence and police inspector Subodh Kumnar Singh's killing. Banne Khan and Asif were arrested after interrogation and investigation.
Claiming that the four were "not arrested in haste", the police said that they acted "based on information available at that time."
"We are conducting an impartial probe. No evidence has been found against the four arrested earlier, we will release them. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) and technical teams are consistently investigating the cases. After collecting more evidence, we found that three others, were involved along with their aides. A Gypsy vehicle, gun and other items were found on them," Atul Kumar Shrivastava, senior police officer in Bulandshahr told NDTV.
On Tuesday, the police arrested Nadeem, Raees and Kala for alleged cow slaughter and said that they "hunted" and "cut the cows and distributed among themselves."
After being arrested Sarfuddin, Sijid Ali, Banne Khan and Asif had repeatedly pleaded with the police that they were innocent.
Sarfuddin's family told the police that on the day the carcasses were found, he was 40 km away at an Ijtema, a three-day Muslim religious convention, held on the outskirts of Bulandshahr. "I have proof that he wasn't here, one can track his GPS location and check if he ever went to Mahav," Sarfuddin's brother, Muhammad Hussain had told NDTV.
Sijid Ali, who was also named in the FIR, does not even live in the village. His uncle Shabbir, a tea vendor said, "Sijid moved to Faridabad 12 years ago." He had visited Bulandshahr for the Ijtema but hadn't come to the village. "Last he visited me was over three months ago, when my mother died," the uncle said.
Asif and Banne Khan were both far away from the spot of violence. Asif had moved away from his village four years ago and settled in Mumbai after he got married, his family said. He has also come to his village for the Ijtema.
Banne Khan lives nearly 50 km from Bulandshahr and 65 kilometres from the spot of the violence. A daily wage labourer, Banne Khan, was arrested by the police after he returned home after work at the pradhan's house, said his neighbours.