Footage posted on social media of the June 10 protest shows 15-year-old Mudassir Alam raising his fist while the crowd sings: “Live Islam”.
Several shots are fired, and Mudassir falls to the ground.
“He is dead!” shouts a spectator as people try to stop the blood flowing from a wound to the teenager’s head.
Mudassir later died at a hospital, one of two young men killed in the Ranchi clash – the latest victims of an ever-deepening religious divide between India’s Hindu majority population and the Muslim minority community.
The June 10 protest was one of several demonstrations that erupted around the country after two former spokesmen for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory remarks about Islam’s prophet Mohammed.
Mudassir’s grieving father, Parvez Alam, does not know who killed his teenage son, but in a police indictment he accused officers of “randomly firing AK-47s and pistols aimed at the Muslim mob.”
He claimed that at least three other men fired bullets at protesters from the roof of the Hindu Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple near where Mudassir stood in the street.
“Because of the shooting from the temple roof and from the police, it was a chaotic situation and a bullet hit my son in the head,” Alam said in his complaint.
Ranchi Deputy Commissioner Chhavi Ranjan confirmed that Mudassir and another man, Sahil Ansari, were later pronounced dead at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Science by “bullet wounds” inflicted during the protest.
Ansari’s father, Mohammad Afzal, told CNN that his 20-year-old son was on his way home from his job selling cell phones on the market when “the police opened fire”.
Ranjan said “the police opened fire because the mob was violent and the first firing occurred from the mob,” but he would not comment on which mob he was referring to, saying the case was under investigation.
Amol Homkar, Inspector General of the Jharkhand Police, said a two-member committee had been formed to investigate the incident, and a specialist letter investigation team from the Ranchi Police is also conducting investigations. Homkar said 12 people were injured during the protest, and 30 have been arrested in the days since, although he did not specify any charges.
CNN has investigated footage from the protest, which at times shows that the police are firing indiscriminately at the protesters, and none of them – including Mudassir – appear to be carrying firearms.
The boy’s father says he wants answers.
“I lost my only child because of this violence,” Alam said. “He was only 15, not even an adult.”
Father and son were working at the family’s fruit stall on Mahatma Gandhi Main Road, a main road through Ranchi, as protesters gathered after Friday prayers, Alam told CNN.
“I removed my fruit kiosk to avoid damage due to 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 pictures on his cell phone.
In a report to Ranchi police, filed two days after his son’s death, Alam said he saw a “mob” from the “Muslim community” moving north along the main road, and when they reached Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Mudassir joined to them.
Alam claimed that the men standing on the roof of the temple started throwing stones at the protesters and fired shots at the crowd.
Video from inside Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, confirmed by CNN, shows several people living on the ground floor, including police officers.
Above the sound of projectiles hitting the building, a woman’s panicked voice said, “Everyone is throwing stones at the temple. The administration is trying to stop it … but they can not.” Protesters can be seen throwing stones through the security screens of the temple.
Another video shows crowds outside throwing stones at the temple before the shots ring out. It is not clear who fired the shots, but the crowd is seen carrying away an unidentified man whose white clothes appear to be stained with blood.
Towards the end of the video, police with weapons are seen walking towards the Muslim protesters, who have withdrawn from their position outside the temple.
Under India’s Code of Criminal Procedure, police can use “force” to disperse what they consider to be an illegal assembly.
Irfan Ansari, a Muslim lawmaker from India’s Congress party, which is part of the ruling coalition in the state, questioned why the police fired bullets at the crowd and said he would demand that the prime minister order a judicial investigation.
“The ranchi incident has put the state to shame,” Ansari wrote on Twitter. “It’s the police’s job to protect, not to shoot.”
Muslims feel targeted
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party came to power in 2014, Muslims say they have been treated unfairly by a government committed to policies that favor Hindus.
India’s Muslim population of 220 million is by far the minority in a country of 1.4 billion people, and while India claims to be a secular country, many Muslims say they live in fear.
The recent comments from former BJP representatives about the Prophet Mohammed did not only anger Muslims in India. At least 15 Muslim-majority nations condemned the statements, and some demanded a diplomatic response from Indian ambassadors.
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar told a town hall hosted by CNN-affiliated News-18 on Saturday that the comments did not reflect the BJP’s views.
“What was said was not the party’s position. The party made it very clear and took action,” Jaishankar said.
“Some countries had concerns about it. They trade with us, we are their image of India. Countries that had concerns understand that this was not the government’s position,” he added.
But high-level diplomacy has failed to quell anger in Indian streets, with comments sparking protests in several major cities. In some places, Muslims say they have been exposed to speaking out.
Authorities defended their actions, saying they were aimed at homes built illegally on public land whose owners had ignored repeated demolition warnings.
But the victims told CNN that only Muslim homes were destroyed and that no warning was given until their properties were reduced to rubble.
In a statement last week, Amnesty accused the Indian government of “selectively and viciously cracking down on Muslims who dare to speak out and peacefully express their dissent against the discrimination they face.”
Aakar Patel, head of the Amnesty International India Board, told CNN that the authorities “violated Indian law and Indian obligations to various treaties that the country has signed”.
“What India is doing is without the justice process going through it, (it) is targeting Muslims, targeting their homes, even shooting them – all under the pretext of trying to make sure there is no violence on the streets,” he said. so.
The family demands answers
In the family’s modest home in Ranchi last Wednesday, women surrounded Mudassir’s grieving mother, Nikhat Parveen, and wiped tears from her eyes as she cried.
Parveen told CNN that Mudassir had called her after he had finished helping his father say he was coming home. “He hung up the phone, and then he died,” Parveen said.
She said her son was waiting for the results of the high school exam, and on Tuesday they found out that he was awarded the right A’s for five of his six-year 10 subjects.
“He used to tell me, ‘I’m going to get a government job. I’m going to get far in life,” Parveen said.
“He was incredibly intelligent … he was loved by everyone. He is not here today and everyone has tears in his eyes.”
His father, Alam, said police had so far frustrated his attempt to file an FIR – an initial information report – needed to launch an official investigation.
“We have tried to take legal action, but the authorities are not cooperating,” he said. “We filed a complaint with the police, but they did not register (it).”
Homkar declined to comment on the allegations and Alam’s allegations. pending the outcome of the investigation.
Alam said the death of his son has robbed his family of the future.
“I am (a) poor worker, me and my son (now dead) wanted to sell fruit and vegetables. He was the only son and the future of my family,” he wrote in his police report.
Mudassir’s mother asked why it was necessary to shoot in a busy street where children, such as her son, were present.
“Does anyone have the right to do that? Do the police or anyone else have the right to fire such shots?”
Asked what she wanted from the police, she said resolutely: “I want justice for my son.”
CNN’s Arpit Goel and Teele Rebane contributed to this report.