- A Hindu woman and a Muslim man were targeted for being friends
- UP DGP OP Singh had promised to take immediate action against errant cops
- A week on, no police complaint has been filed against any of the cops
Policemen seen in videos assaulting a Hindu woman after she and her Muslim friend were targeted by right-wing activists in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut have been transferred. That they have been dispatched to Gorakhpur, the home base of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has raised serious doubts about whether it was punishment.
A week after the brutal assault, none of the 18 attackers, some clearly seen on camera thrashing the Muslim man, have been arrested.
This was hardly what the pair - both medical students - expected when the state police chief, OP Singh, promised action immediately after the outrageous videos surfaced. An FIR has been filed against the attackers, allegedly linked to the rightwing Vishwa Hindu Parishad; no case has been filed against the police personnel who beat the woman and watched the man being beaten by goons.
"I don't want to return to college because I am scared and embarrassed. I get frequent threat calls from the accused and their relatives... they say they will come to my college and kill me," said the man. He does not expect the police to provide protection, given that he has not even been called to record a statement yet.
The Uttar Pradesh police insisted that the three cops seen in a video beating and abusing the woman inside a police van have been transferred to Gorakhpur to ensure a "fair investigation". Neetu Singh, Salek Chand and Priyanka are now posted in a constituency Yogi Adityanath has represented in parliament for five consecutive terms. A fourth policeman Shahensar Pal, who was also in the vehicle, remains in Meerut.
When NDTV contacted Meerut Superintendent of Police (City) Ranvijay Singh, he claimed that the police were busy with the "Kranti Yatra" or farmers' protest. "We will look into this case after that," he said.
According to the Muslim man, the incident took place on September 23 when the woman, who studies in the same medical college, dropped by his home to collect a book. "She was just about to leave when a group of people came along and started asking me my name. They then began to beat me up, saying that it was not right for two people from different communities to meet like this. They told me that it always starts with friendship, then advances to romance and love jihad," he said.
The man was allegedly beaten all over his body -- including his private parts -- until his eyes and nose began to bleed. When a police emergency van arrived some time later; the police simply picked up the woman and left.
In the van, the woman was slapped repeatedly by a female cop, Neetu Singh, while others abused her and kept taunting her with questions like: "There are so many Hindu men, why go for a Muslim?"
Videos of both the incidents went viral in the days that followed, and the policemen were suspended amid widespread uproar. Even the Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh took to Twitter to promise stringent action.
"The Meerut incident is an act of gross imprudence by a few errant cops. Irresponsible and insensitive behaviour by UP cops will not be tolerated. The job of a policeman is to maintain the highest standards of probity, which must be upheld at all times. Corrective action is being taken," he tweeted.