Footage of the June 10 protest posted on social media shows 15-year-old Mudassir Alam raising his fist as the crowd chant “Long live Islam.”
More shots are fired and Mudassir falls to the ground.
“He died!” a passer-by shouts as people try to stop the blood flowing from the wound into the teenager’s head.
Mudassir later died in hospital, one of two young men killed in the Ranchi clash, the latest victims of a deepening religious rift between India’s Hindu majority population and its Muslim minority.
The June 10 protest was one of several demonstrations that erupted across the country after two former members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory remarks about Islam’s prophet Muhammad.
Mudassir’s grieving father, Parvez Alam, does not know who killed his teenage son, but in a police complaint, he accused officers of “indiscriminately firing AK-47s and pistols at the Muslim mafia.”
He claimed that at least three other men fired at the protesters from the roof of the Sri Sankat Mochan Hanuman Hindu Temple, not far from where Mudassir was standing on the street.
“Because of the shooting from the roof of the temple and from the side of the police, a chaotic situation arose, and one bullet hit my son in the head,” Alam said in his complaint.
Deputy Commissioner Ranchi Chhavi Ranjan confirmed that Mudassir and another man, Sahil Ansari, were later pronounced dead at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences from “bullet wounds” sustained during the protest.
Ansari’s father, Mohammad Afzal, told CNN that his 20-year-old son was returning home from a job selling mobile phones at the market when “the police opened fire.”
Ranjan said that “the police opened fire because the crowd was violent and the initial shooting came from the crowd”, but he did not comment on which crowd he was referring to, saying the matter was being investigated.
Amol Homkar, Inspector General of the Jharkhand Police, said a two-man committee had been formed to investigate the incident and a special investigation team of the Ranchi Police was also investigating. Homkar said 12 people were injured during the protest and 30 were arrested in the following days, though he did not elaborate on any charges.
CNN has examined footage of the protest, which at times shows police shooting indiscriminately at demonstrators, none of whom, including Mudassir, have firearms.
The boy’s father says he wants answers.
“Because of this violence, I lost my only child,” Alam said. “He was only 15, not even an adult.”
The father and son were working at the family’s fruit stand on Mahatma Gandhi’s main street, Ranchi’s main street, when protesters gathered after Friday prayers, Alam told CNN.
“I was cleaning my fruit stand to avoid damage from the protests,” he said. “Mudassir helped me.”
Alam described his son as a “very polite boy” who, like many teenagers his age, loved making TikTok videos and taking photos with his cell phone.
In a police report to Ranchi filed two days after his son’s death, Alam said he saw a “crowd” from the “Muslim community” moving north along the main road, and when they reached the Shri Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, Mudassir joined them. .
Alam claimed that the men who were standing on the roof of the temple started throwing stones at the protesters and fired into the crowd.
A video from inside the Sri Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, confirmed by CNN, shows several people taking shelter on the ground floor, including police officers.
Over the sound of shells hitting the building, a woman’s panicked voice says: “Everyone is throwing stones at the temple. The administration is trying to stop it…but it can’t.” Through the temple’s security screens, protesters can be seen throwing stones.
In another video, a crowd outside is seen hurling rocks at the temple before gunfire erupts. It is not clear who is shooting, but an unidentified man is seen being carried away by the crowd, whose white clothes appear to be stained with blood.
Towards the end of the video, gun-wielding police officers are seen walking towards Muslim demonstrators who have retreated from their positions outside the temple.
According to the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, police officers can use “force” to disperse what they consider to be an unlawful assembly.
Irfan Ansari, a Muslim MP from the Congress Party of India, which is part of the ruling coalition in the state, asked why the police opened fire on the crowd and said he would require the chief minister to order a judicial inquiry.
“The Ranchi incident has brought shame to the state,” Ansari tweeted. “The job of the police is to protect, not to shoot.”
Muslims feel targeted
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power in 2014, Muslims have said they have been treated unfairly by a pro-Hindu government.
India’s Muslim population of 220 million is much smaller than the country of 1.4 billion, and although India claims to be a secular country, many Muslims say they live in fear.
Recent comments by former BJP officials about the Prophet Mohammed have not only angered India’s Muslims. At least 15 Muslim-majority countries condemned the remarks, with some demanding a diplomatic response from Indian ambassadors.
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said at a town hall hosted by CNN News-18 affiliate on Saturday that the comments do not reflect the views of the BJP.
“What was said was not the position of the party. The party has made this clear and taken action,” Jaishankar said.
“Some countries had concerns about this. They deal with us, we are their image of India. Countries that had concerns understand that this was not the position of the government,” he added.
But high-level diplomacy has failed to dampen the anger on Indian streets, where the comments sparked protests in several major cities. In some places, Muslims say they are being persecuted for speaking out.
Authorities justified their actions by saying they were targeting homes illegally built on public land whose owners ignored repeated demolition notices.
But the victims told CNN that only Muslim homes were destroyed and that no warning was given before their property was reduced to rubble.
In a statement last week, Amnesty International accused the Indian government of “selectively and brutally targeting Muslims who dare to speak up and peacefully express their opposition to the discrimination they face.”
Aakar Patel, chairman of the Indian board of Amnesty International, told CNN that the authorities “are violating the laws of India and India’s obligations under the various treaties that the country has signed.”
“What India is doing is without a lawsuit, (it is) targeting Muslims, targeting their homes, even shooting at them – all under the guise of trying to make sure there is no violence on the street,” he said. said.
The family demands answers
Last Wednesday at the family’s humble home in Ranchi, women surrounded Mudassir’s heartbroken mother, Nihat Parveen, wiping tears from her eyes as she wept.
Parveen told CNN that Mudassir called her after he had finished helping his father to tell her he was coming home. “He hung up and then died,” Parvin said.
She said her son was waiting for the results of his high school exams, and on Tuesday they learned that he got A’s in five of the six 10th grade subjects.
“He used to tell me, ‘I’m going to get a government job. I’m going to go far in life,” Parvin said.
“He was incredibly smart… everyone loved him. Today he is not here, and everyone has tears in their eyes.”
His father, Alam, said police have so far thwarted his attempts to file an FIR – the first information report – required to open an official investigation.
“We tried to sue, but the authorities are not cooperating,” he said. “We filed a complaint with the police, but they didn’t register (it).”
Homkar declined to comment on Alam’s statement and other allegations. pending the results of the investigation.
Alam said that his son’s death deprived his family of a future.
“I am (a) a poor worker, me and my son (now dead) were selling fruits and vegetables. He was the only son and future in my family,” he wrote in his statement to the police.
Mudassir’s mother asked why shoot in a busy street where there were children, like her son.
“Does anyone have the right to do this? Do the police or anyone else have the right to shoot like that?”
When asked what she wanted from the police, she said emphatically, “I want justice for my son.”
Arpit Goel and Til Rebane of CNN contributed to this report.