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Kasganj violence: Investigators dig into video clips

In the maze of mobile phone videos and CCTV footage, police look for clues to find faces responsible for the communal flare-up that claimed a life.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2018 22:45 IST
Chandan Kumar and Rajesh Kumar Singh
More than 80 people were arrested while Rapid Action Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel intensified vigil in Kasganj on Sunday.
More than 80 people were arrested while Rapid Action Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel intensified vigil in Kasganj on Sunday. (PTI file)

Investigators are examining more than 500 mobile and CCTV clips to reconstruct the sequence of events that sparked communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh’s Kasganj on Republic Day, leaving one man dead and several injured, officials said on Wednesday.

At least three shops, two buses and a car were torched after a youth, Abhishek Gupta, 23, was killed in clashes following stone-pelting by a mob on a motorcycle rally taken out to celebrate Republic Day last week.

Officials said Kasganj police have collected more than 500 video clips, most of them related to the communal clashes.

Officials said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the violence is also trying to ascertain the authenticity of at least a dozen video clips that went viral on social media. These clips are related to the Tiranga Yatra taken out by the right-wing Hindu groups.

Most of these videos were filmed on cellphones while others were sourced from CCTV cameras located near government buildings and private properties.

Both the Hindu and Muslim groups are accusing each other of provocation that led to clashes.

“Our teams started collecting these videos right after prohibitory orders were imposed,” said additional director general of police Ajay Anand, who is overseeing the police operations in Kasganj, more than 300km from state capital Lucknow.

Algarh zone inspector general Sanjiv Gupta, who is camping in Kasganj, said the police had copies of the video footage. “We are verifying the videos and trying to identify the people moving with firearms and sticks. Once identified, the police will summon them for interrogation,” Gupta added.

The police are also looking into the footage of youth taking out the Tiranga Yatra with Chandan Gupta moving on a motorcycle with associates, three youth torching a shop at night and unidentified people setting buses and vehicles on fire in the market.

A 1 minute 32 second video of the clashes in Baddu Nagar was one of the first footage obtained by the police and used in probe.

The video shows a group of men on motorbikes shouting, “Hindustan main rehna hai to Vande Mataram kehna hoga.”

Kasganj district magistrate RP Singh said: “The video of Baddu Nagar was verified by our local intelligence units and used in making the early arrests.”

Several other videos believed to have been shot during the clashes emerged later.

In one such video allegedly shot in Baddu Nagar, a group of men can be seen passing an alley, riding motorbikes. Some of the pillion riders can be seen holding the national flag while the others are brandishing large metal objects, apparently swords. The men are also heard shouting provocative slogans.

Another 15-second video shot from the roof a building shows a group of men moving on the road below the building. Some of these men are carrying the national flag while some can be seen holding hand guns. Gun shots can be heard in the background.

Police have approached local journalists who covered the incident and requested them to submit videos shot by them.

“We are sending all videos for forensic examination to check their authenticity. If found authentic, we will use them in court,” the ADG said.

A police officer said anti-social elements released video footage of the 2013 Muzafffarnagar communal violence on social media in order to stoke communal passions in Kasganj. Additional director general (law and order) Anand Kumar said at least 121 people have been arrested in relation to the violence and eight cases have been registered.