Video footage puts PAC, police roles under scanner

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, a district administration official said: "The footage shows police personnel of the rank of inspector and above just standing there watching the rioters screaming. Moreover, after analysing hours of footage, we believe the mob in Faizabad included not more than 30 or 40 people, and we know there were at least the same number of police personnel deployed at the time."

Eyewitnesses confirmed what the cameras recorded. A shopkeeper said rioters had set fire to at least five shops before the fire tenders arrived. "When the fire tenders were a few hundred metres away, a group of vandals stopped them even as the police watched. The rioters did not set fire to all the shops, but the fire spread since each building is located so close to the next," he said.

It was worse in Bhadarsa, where violence was not limited to October 24, but recurred on October 26, after police forces had been deployed. While in the main town of Bhadarsa, rioters set ablaze a row of shops and pelted stones at places of worship, the outer villages of Fatehpur, Takewa and Islamabad saw at least 100 shops and houses being gutted.

Additional District Magistrate Rajesh Kumar said the administration has given Rs 20 lakh as interim compensation to at least 144 people so far. Of these, only nine are for shops, while the remaining are for houses.

Kasirunissa, who was at her home in Takewa with her four-year-old daughter when the violence started, said a mob entered her house, took away everything and torched the thatched roof. "I could do nothing. I just sat there crying, begging them not to hurt my daughter or me. After they left I went outside and saw policemen standing just a few hundred metres away," she claimed.

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