Hyderabad: To know the fact behind the death of Sheikh Mustafauddin, the 11-year-old boy who was allegedly burnt alive by military men, at Mehdipatnam Garrison, Hyderabad one week ago, a Fact Finding Team comprising Kaneez Fathima, Adv. Gulam Rabbani, Adv. Ismail Khan (Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee), D. Kotesh & Gurram Seetaramulu (Research scholars, English and Foreign Languages University), D. Nagaraju, Sogra Begum (Activists), Tathagata Sengupta (Asst. Professor, HCU), Adv. Greeshma Rai, Kaveri Indira (Faculty Fellow, HCU), Arpita Kanjilal (Research Scholar, HCU) visited the family, friends and neighbours of the victim Shaik Mustafa, met the Investigating officer, Inspector S. Ravinder of Humayun Nagar Police station as well as tried to speak to the officers at Garrison. The fact finding team spoke to the father, paternal uncle, relatives, friends and neighbours of the victim to know the facts of the incident.Given below is the report of the team.
Siddiq Nagar is located inside the Military Garrison and this locality had two ways to reach the road, one led towards Retibowli and another led towards Mehdipatnam. But the military personnel built walls and closed the path and way towards Retibowli and the civilians are left with only one way i.e. from the gate of Garrison. So, in short Siddiq Nagar is located in the middle of the military area which is encircled by the military cantonment. According to locals there are 250 to 300 houses on 2.5 acres of land and there are 200 families living there since the period of Nizam i.e. more than 100 years. Various religious communities are the inhabitants of this locality where a Masjid and a Mallamma temple are also located. This area comes under the Nampally constituency and under the limits of Humayun Nagar police station.
Facts of the case
On 8th October 2014, an 11 year old boy named Shaik Mustafa was burnt to death by two military guards near the ‘Signal equipment tools’ area in the Garrison located beside Sarojini Devi eye hospital, Mehdipatnam. This boy is the resident of Siddiq Nagar which is located inside the Military garrison which is infact encircled by the Military cantonment.
Shaik Mustafa is the third son among four children of Shaik Muqee Uddin. They are three brothers and one sister. According to the father of the victim Mr. Shaik Muqeet Uddin, Mustafa had gone to afternoon Namaz and returned to home and again went out to play. Within minutes he came to know from the neighbours that his son is burnt by the military men. He along with his elder and younger son rushed to the spot and found his son burning in flames and Khader, Mustafa’s friend and others were trying to put off the flames by pouring water.
Once the flames were doused, he lifted Mustafa in his arms and ran to find an auto to take him to the hospital. Though an ambulance of the Army passed by, nobody stopped inspite of his pleadings. Finally they found an auto and took Mustafa to Olive hospital. Enroute, father kept asking his son, who did this to him, Mustafa was gasping for breath and was repeatedly asking for cold water but in between he recounted and told his father that two men in army uniform called him while he was playing and asked him to bring chocolates, cigarette and match box. The boy took the money went and bought these things from the shop. And when he came back to give them the same, they asked him to come inside the fencing area so the boy sneaked into the fencing, then they punched him on his face and his teeth were broken. Then one of them poured kerosene in his kurta, Mustafa released himself from their clutches and tried to run and the other military man flung a lighted match stick on him. Mustafa ran towards the gate with the flames and as the gate was closed he tried to escape from the gap at the bottom of the gate and started shouting for help saying ‘I am the son of Muqeet Uddin’.
A person named Khader witnessed Mustafa burning in flames and alerted other people while trying to put off the flames. Muqeet Uddin said that all this happened within 15-20 minutes of time.
Olive hospital doctors declared 92% burn injuries and asked to shift Mustafa to Osmania General Hospital (OGH). Mayor Majid Hussain arrived at OGH and again shifted to DRDL Apollo hospital for better treatment. While undergoing treatment at Apollo hospital Mustafa succumbed to burns on next day i.e. 9th October 2014. While in Osmania General Hospital XV additional chief magistrate A. Srinivas Kumar recorded his statement. Mr. Khader, aged 25-30 years, who witnessed Mustafa in flames, later gave a complaint in police station and 307 case was registered later altered to 302. MLA Jaffer Hussain, was at the place till the body was shifted to grave yard.
According to Shaik Moinuddin, paternal uncle of the victim and the local people living in Siddiq Nagar said that before 1995 the area was open without any fencing or gate. Later it was fenced and the gate was fixed in 1995. Just 2-3 years back fence was removed and wall built surrounding the whole area including the road which paved way towards Retibowli and the civilians are left with a single entrance from the Garrison gate which is besides Sarojini Devi eye hospital and opposite to the airport fly over. The civilians are given passes which they have to show each time they leave or enter the gate and renew them every year. No other person including relatives and friends are allowed to enter this locality. The relatives have to show original Aadhar cards and the present condition is that when a relative wants to visit they have to make call and ask their relative to come to the gate and them accompany them to their house. The locals also said that since two years the military personnel are troubling a lot especially to the lady residents. When the women come or go out they are asked to show their faces by removing their burqa or even if they are with their brothers, fathers or husbands they are forced to show their faces and asked where they are going or where they are coming from. This harassment has increased since a month they said.
Mr. Krishna who is a BSNL employee and resident of Siddiq Nagar said that they are living here since 100 years. At the time of Bonalu celebrations recently, they were not allowed to celebrate the festival. 2-3 vans of military men came and surrounded them as if it is a war zone. They threatened the civilians to leave the Mallamma temple or face dire consequences and then this temple is also fenced and no one is allowed to go to that temple.
The locals also said that during the time of Chandrababu Naidu in the year 1999 the army personnel destroyed the Rythu Bazar (farmers’ vegetable market) and bulldozed the entire market causing severe loss to the farmers. The locals also said that two years back the then AP government had assured that they would be accommodated in other area by building G+3 flats, but the locals demanded that they should be given independent houses same as they have in possession. But the government has done nothing yet. Few years back, the then collector also tried to evict them in the pretext of shifting the Mehdipatnam Rythu Bazar inside the garrison, but the alternative accommodation site they offered was very far outside the city. Recently Minister Padma Rao came and assured them of giving land and homes in the city area itself. The residents of Siddiq Nagar are so vexed up by the harassment of military personnel that they do not want to live there and now after this incident they feel that they have threat to their lives as well as threat to the security of their women and children.
As we were leaving the premises of Sarojini Eye Hospital, we overheard two individuals talk about how the residents of the Siddiq Nagar were hiding the truth. On approaching them, they refused to talk with women around. Hence, the women moved away and male members of the team had a conversation with them. Under conditions of anonymity, they mentioned that the boy was lured with chocolate, sexually assaulted and then set on fire, so that he wouldn’t get to tell anyone about the sexual violence, and also to ensure that the evidence of the assault was destroyed. The family members and other members of the Siddiq Nagar are not willing to share this information out of the fear of public shame and violence from the army authorities. They also mentioned that they have heard from people that the duty register, containing the details of who was there in duty then at the particular gate, has been tampered with to shield the perpetrators.
Visit to the police station
After talking to the father, uncle and other people of the locality, the fact finding team went to the Humayun Nagar police station where this case is registered and met the investigating officer, Inspector S. Ravinder. According to the officer, this incident of burning Shaik Mustafa took place on 8th October 2014. At around 2.30 pm they came to know about the incident and they rushed to the spot and found Mustafa with burn injuries at “Signal Equipment Tools” area in the Garrison. The victim was shifted to Olive hospital, then to Osmania general hospital. From there he was shifted to DRDL Apollo hospital for further treatment. While undergoing treatment at Apollo hospital, he succumbed to burn injuries at 8.50 pm on 9th October 2014.
In his dying declaration, Mustafa told in front of Magistrate that two military personnel poured kerosene on him and lit the fire (which correlates with the version by the father). On asking by the team whether the victim disclosed any name(s), Inspector said that he did not disclose any name(s). Officer also said that according to the boy’s statement, the military men asked him to bring 2 match boxes and 2 chocolates from the small kirana provision shop inside the garrison.
The team members also asked the officer whether any clue has been found in these four days, whether the military people are cooperating with the police men in investigation and what all measures are being taken to solve case. The officer said that till now no clue has been found but the burden of responsibility lies with the military officers. 15-20 teams are formed categorized and these in groups form are approaching various people for investigation. Teams such as forensic, DCP, CCS, SIT, civil police, ACP etc. are formed to track the culprits. The officer also said, close to the play ground from where Mustafa was last known to be present there are many Equipment Stores manned by different individuals (Army employees) at different time periods. He said there are no surveillance cameras which lead to the area of the crime; no guards man the exact location where the attack took place. He further said, there are 53 categories in which different workers/officials fall into right from Dhobi to Officers. The police are scrutinizing all these lists and those who were working at the time of occurrence of the crime.
On asking what all was found at the offence area, he said chocolate wrappers, kerosene bottle, burnt kurta of Mustafa and many other things were found and all these things are in the custody of forensic experts. He also said that a case of 302 read with 34 IPC is registered. The team members asked him whether any complaints have been received against the military personnel in the past by the civilians. The officer said this area was handed over to the military around 1962 but the civilians are residing there since 100 years. There are almost 200 families living in Siddiq Nagar. There are no complaints at this police station against the military personnel but there are many issues in the past including vacating that land, but no recorded complaints. One of the team member asked whether there is any doubt of sodomy as is heard by some of us. On this the officer replied that they are looking at all the angles including this issue.
The officer also mentioned that the officials from the Army have been cooperative but he mentioned that the Army has its jurisdiction and sway over the whole area, and they have the “Kashmir mindset”. Later we also noted that the battalion posted there in the Garrison is the Jammu and Kashmir regiment. He also mentioned that a special taskforce has been appointed by the Commissioner and the taskforce was also looking into the matter along with his team.
The investigating officer, Mr. Ravinder seemed to be confident about the Army’s cooperation in the investigation. But he was clear that the Army’s permission is required to interrogate officials working with the Army. He seemed to be of the opinion that the Army is in all possibility having an internal enquiry into the incident. When asked what if the Army issues a statement saying none of their officials committed the said crime which would be a hindrance to the investigation, Ravinder repeatedly said that the word of the Police will be the final word and even if their findings are contrary to the Army’s, their findings will take precedence. What we fail to understand is how the Police will have access to any of the officials under the payrolls of the Army as we are well aware that to do so, prior permission of the Army is mandatory. Inspector Ravinder seemed confident that the police will soon have a breakthrough as this is a ‘sensitive case’ but the team is concerned about the possibility of the perpetrators getting away with the crime.
Visit to the Garrison
After this, the fact finding team went to Garrison, but the guard did not allow the team to go inside and asked us to bring written permission from the Andhra sub post. We insisted to speak to any officer at Garrison so the guard asked all of us to go out and only one person can stay and speak and he called the officer over phone but the officer did not wish to speak to us. During that time a relative of someone of Siddiq Nagar had come and wanted to go inside, the guard spoke to him very rashly and asked him to call the person to whose house he want to go and then after he comes he can go with them inside, he said. We had already known through our sources that the military people are not allowing anyone to visit the victim’s family, so we had called the father and other people outside, spoke to them and got the details.
Demands from the victim’s family
The family of Mustafa demand that justice should be done to their son, the two military men should be punished for the heinous crime. They also have strong opinion that the military washer man Allappa knows everything about the incident and might be the eye witness of the military men burning Mustafa, as the kerosene might have been taken from the room as it is used by the washer man to burn the coal for ironing the clothes. The locals demand the government to either shift the military from that area or allot houses to these people in any other part of the city as they have regular threat from the military personnel not only to them but to their women and children as well.
The following are the findings by the fact finding team after visiting the place and speaking to various people including the victim’s family:
- This case is purely a case of sexual assault and murder of an 11-year old boy Shaik Musatafa by two military persons.
- The team has found that the harassment of the local civilians by the military personnel is not a new thing. It is going on since few years and now since six months the harassment has increased.
- This harassment is also a conspiracy by the military personnel to evacuate the local civilians from their place and occupy even that piece of land held by the civilians.
- Almost lot of land has been occupied by the military personnel including the childrens’ playground, the Mallamma temple and closed the route which paved way towards Retibowli.
- It is commonly known to everyone that civilians are attacked in such manner since many years. Therefore, the land to military personnel should be allotted at the outskirts of the city not in the heart of the city.
- After speaking to the investigation officer it is very much clear that police is not given autonomous authority to investigate this case. They are dependent completely on the military personnel.
- There is harmonious relation among the communities living in the Siddiq Nagar area.
- It seems that the military has no moral values. Even if they had minimum moral values they would have not committed such heinous crime.
Recommendations and Demands
The fact finding team recommends and demands the following:
- As it is purely a case of sodomy and murder by the military men the commander in chief of the army should immediately intervene into the matter and take serious steps to provide justice to Mustafa.
- The commander in chief should immediately resign as a mark of moral responsibility till the enquiry is done, criminals punished and justice done to Mustafa and his family.
- The military officers very well know who the culprits are, but they are shielding those criminals. The military officers should immediately court marshal those criminals and restore moral values in the army personnel.
- Investigation officer should be given complete autonomy to handle this case and bring out the facts before the people.
- All the parties who are interested in investigation such as civil bodies, police personnel etc. should be allowed to move freely into the cantonment area for the purpose of investigation.
- As there are many political forces involved in this matter Investigation should be done and completed by the CBI in a very short period and the report should be presented before the people as soon as possible so that justice is done to Mustafa.
- The local civilians should be given complete protection by the government as they have threat by the military personnel.
- The unrestrained army personnel should be put in control.
- As it is a civil matter the state government should take the military cantonment into their possession till the matter is solved.
- The military cantonments should be withdrawn from the areas where they are in the city limits.
- A family member of the deceased should be given a government employment immediately and rupees twenty lakhs should be given to the family in the form of compensation.
After going through all the facts and statements of various people, it is evident that this is purely a case of sodomy by two military men with a boy of 11 years old. It is sheer a matter of shame for the whole military personnel. The immorality and shamelessness among the army is growing to such an extent that they are becoming a burden for the Indian government and the most unreliable and mistrustful for the civil society. Though they are recruited for the purpose of the security and protection of the Indian citizens, they are turning to be the enemies of the civilians. They have become threat for the civilians.
This is not the first kind of incident; there are many more serious crimes by the military personnel in the cantonment areas where most of the cases go unreported and unseen. Just two months back a minor girl was raped and killed by the army of Secunderabad cantonment. The army regiments at the borders of the country and in Jammu & Kashmir as well north-east states suspect every single civilian and behave in a violent way with them. The same mindset is seen in the military personnel in Hyderabad and Secunderabad cantonments. As there are many political forces involved not only in this case but also in the larger issues that are happening in various cantonments in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, there is dire need for CBI inquiry into this case, which should be completed in a very short period of time and made public so that the further harassment and assaults by the military personnel are controlled.
It is high time that the Indian government at the larger level and the Telangana government at the state level should intervene in this matter and take serious steps in withdrawing the military cantonments from Hyderabad and Secunderabad areas and shift them at the outskirts of the cities. In the past when the lands were allotted for the military cantonments, the civilian population of the cities was very much less. But now the population of the twin cities i.e. Hyderabad and Secunderabad has increased tremendously. So these military cantonments should not be continued in the city areas. Therefore, these cantonments should be shifted immediately to the outskirts of the cities.
If at all these assaults and harassment by the military personnel continue with the civilians as is presently witnessed in Mehdipatnam cantonment and Secunderabad cantonment, people will lose faith in the military personnel and will have no respect towards them. Therefore, not only Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee but all the civilians of the twin cities strongly feel that the cantonments be shifted immediately to the outskirts of the twin cities and save the citizens from the harassment and assault by the military personnel.
Jt. Secretary, CLMC