EXCLUSIVE: It’s time we all said– my name is Asif and I will not go to Pakistan

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Preeti Sharma Menon

A few weeks back on a national television I was told to “go to Pakistan” by a Shiv Sena spokesperson. I scoffed at him and dared him to try sending me. I am secure about my nationality, I am born into it and I take it for granted.

In the early hours of 18 October 2015, a Mumbai college youth had his nationality rudely and violently challenged. A typical teenager, this Rizvi college student, fitness freak, heavily into body building competitions, had the typical swagger of a Bandra youth. All this was thrashed out of him by Mumbai Police on 18 October. For absolutely no crime, he was picked up, stripped, handcuffed, beaten up and told that he had no business living in the city he was born and brought up in – he was told by Police Inspector Pawar “to go to Pakistan”. Reason? His name is Asif Shaikh!

Unlike me, Asif has never challenged the establishment, never broken any law, is not into politics or activism. He is just a normal college kid. Can we even begin to comprehend how badly our democratic fabric has been torn apart whereby cops can pick a teenager and assault him/her all night for absolutely no reason? Forget freedom of expression and all those fine democratic rights – do we even have the right to exist? For a Muslim in Mumbai 2015, clearly not.

Asif and his friend Danish were out for spin on their bike after a late night visit to a hospitalised relative. They stopped to check a drunken man lying on road and got picked up by cops in a private car, were taken to Bandra police station and thrown into a room with another group of drunken men. When Asif demanded to know why he was being held there and said he would like to call his family, he was stripped, handcuffed and beaten with bamboos and belts for about two to three hours by PI Pawar and five or six other constables.

PI Pawar told him why he was in India and he should instead go to Pakistan. Danish managed to slyly call Asif’s uncle Umer Hasan Shaikh at 5.30 am, when the cops had taken a break from the torture. Umer reached the station at 6.15 am and demanded to know why his nephew was arrested, why was he beaten up, and why was he not being taken to a hospital.

PI Pawar realized he had crossed the line and conceded to the victims and their relatives that there was no case registered, begged forgiveness, offered medical assistance and offered money provided they kept quiet about the incident. *Typically, if anyone is arrested in cognizable offence, an FIR is registered and they are sent for a medical, taken into police custody before being presented the next morning in a Magistrate Court where the Judge decides the future. This did not happen in Asif’s case, so clearly there was no offence registered against him.

PI Pawar further claimed that he just did it in fit of rage as Asif was argumentative! Therein lies the truth of Mumbai Police – in a fit of rage they can thrash a Hindu female devotee at Lalbaug or torture a Muslim boy all night, because they don’t like arguments.

But to continue the story, Umer finally relented and told the cops he would keep quiet. So they let him take Asif and Danish and leave. *Point to be noted my Lord – if an offence had been registered against Asif then there is no way he would have been allowed to walk out of the police station without the process of medical, custody and Magistrate’s orders.

Umer took Danish to Bhabha Hospital and stated that he was beaten in police custody. That was it. An entire posse of cops descended there in vans and jeeps and began threatening and intimidating Umer all day. Asif was diagnosed and treated for fractures and multiple wounds in the Emergency Ward but out of fear of the police, the hospital refused to admit him. That’s when activists and politicians intervened, they got Asif admitted and escalated the issue.

The Mumbai Police Commissioner immediately ordered an inquiry but I can say for sure it will be a farce. The police have now made a back dated FIR on Asif claiming he attacked the cops first – this is blatant, deliberate cover up because *the point to be noted comes into play here. Moreover, I met the Commissioner with Asif’s mother on Monday evening and when he said the inquiry would be completed next day itself I was forced to point out that that was impossible because the victim’s statement had not even been recorded, so the inquiry could not have even started. The mother begged that PI Pawar be suspended as he was intimidating them but the Commissioner was unmoved. His attitude made it clear that he will give a clean chit to PI Pawar and all the other cops for sure.

Further cover up was done by BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC, who said they were picked up due to a mistaken identity in a terror case – again if that were true, *charges would have been framed and they would have been produced in Magistrate Court.

Asif is still in hospital, will probably be discharged soon but his budding body building career will suffer a huge setback as he will not be able to compete this winter. His carefree youthfulness has been snatched from him. There are countless Asif’s in India, there are worse cases where custodial deaths have taken place for no real crime. The grim truth is every time we ignore an Asif’s story we ensure another Asif happens. It’s time we all came together and said – my name is Asif and I will not go to Pakistan.

The author is a senior Aam Aadmi Party leader based in Mumbai

19 COMMENTS

  1. Mumbai Police will now be just like Delhi Police. Its truly a state sponsored torture. And police does inquiry against their own. Will they call their own a culprit? Even a child can tell that in India. This is called our internal threat group to terrorize common citizens. What is the difference between these and those who come from outside and terrorize?

  2. This is what I envisioned would happen if Modi came to power and I was right!. I feel very bad for this kid. Hope he finds peace.

  3. You were lucky dude to be in India.
    If you were in Karachi, you would be in all-allowed custody for 90 days and they can torture you “legally” without any FIR, medical assistance or basic rights of a detained which is a lawyer.

    Furthermore, if you die in their custody in Karachi, they will simply throw your body in plastic bag and a headline will be like “unknown killed innocent college student”

    I know police is shit regardless of border but you were damn lucky man that police offered you medical assistance and money 🙂

      • It is always wrong to think of people somehow different from yourself in a disparaging manner. While it is true that Karachi is regaining a peaceful atmosphere and the MQM doubtless is culpable in numerous abhorrent actions like the repeated strike calls which were essentially enforced; it cannot serve as an excuse to condone wrongdoing on the part of any individual or collective. Extra Judicial killing of any person will remain a serious wrong and so will torture or other abuse of human rights. There are no justifications for evil on the part of anyone and accepting it in any form or pretext leads to brutalization and cannot produce positive outcomes in the long run. What is happening in India in not more or less wrong. It is wrong period and the sooner India realizes and rectifies the situation the better it will be for them as a nation.

    • Dear rizvi I am living in karachi since 15 yrs. I never saw karachi peaceful as it is now, bc of just this 90 days, all btata mafia, serial killer, they under grond and many arrested by rangers, I think you must belong to same mafia and terrorist groups that are destroying peace of karachi.. Long live karachi long live rangers..

  4. It’s heart warming to see the response Asif is receiving.. government and state institutions of India and Pakistan are alike in such matters, extremist elements do not represent any country, religion or ethnicity. We should rise above the differences before it’s too late. If only we were humans before labelling ourselves as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew.. if that wasn’t enough we divide ourselves more Pakistani, Indian, American, Israeli and then more Punjabi, Sindhi, Sikh, Gujarati, Bihari.. its never ending. God Bless Humanity.

  5. This is a highly dramatised and exaggerated view of one side of the story. Pretty sure he must have done something to aggravate the cops. We have all been stopped at nakabandis or for riding bikes rashly but if you talk respectfully to the cops no is beaten up or taken to jail. Even they fear their jobs. I’m sure there;s more to this than mentioned here. Ever since BJP has come to power media is using any excuse it gets to flare communal aspect to make a sensational story even when there is none! People please stay calm and analyse the situation rationally.

  6. This is the pink revolution BJP envisioned when they were campaigning for elections. Everyone knew that extremism would rise but not that it would rise so quickly! BJP was elected not because they have anything good to highlight in their track record, but because people wanted respite from the corrupt Congress and BJP showed false hopes of development. Now everyone realizes what blunder they committed by electing the BJP! Never has India encountered such outlawish crimes and state sponsored terrorism against the civilians! Some Shit Sena people will say that riots happened even out of BJP rule but the reply to them is that this is not rioting…this is anarchy and terrorism which has never happened in India before.

  7. The pics speak for themselves , police brutality and specially Maharashtra police against minorities say muslims and dalits is widepsread and commonly known, in a majoritarian and polarised environment more profound in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the coward police always sides to appease the majoritarians. Where does this end and who is accountable?However I am Indian and will not go to pakistan.

  8. This country belongs equally to everyone who was inside on Aug 15th 1947 .Shame on police if they discriminate people based on religion .

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