Images posted on social media from the June 10 protest show Mudassir Alam, 15, raising his fist in the air as the crowd chants, “Long live Islam.”
More shots ring out and Mudassir falls to the ground.
“He is dead!” yells a bystander, as people try to stem the flow of blood from a wound to the teen’s head.
Mudassir later died in hospital, one of two young men killed in the Ranchi clash, the latest victims of a deepening religious divide between India’s majority Hindu population and the minority Muslim community.
The June 10 protest was one of several demonstrations that erupted across the country after two former spokesmen for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory comments 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 mob.”
He claimed that at least three other men were firing bullets at protesters from the roof of the Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman Hindu temple, near where Mudassir was standing in the street.
“Due to the shooting from the roof of the temple and by the police, there 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 Sciences from “gunshot wounds” sustained during the protest.
Ansari’s father, Mohammad Afzal, told CNN his 20-year-old son was on his way home from work selling cellphones in the market when “police opened fire.”
Ranjan said “the police opened fire because the mob was violent and the initial shots were fired from the mob,” but declined to comment on which mob he was referring to, saying the matter was under investigation.
Amol Homkar, inspector general of the Jharkhand police, said a two-member committee has been formed to investigate the incident and a special investigation team from the Ranchi police is also investigating. 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 examined footage from the protest, which at times shows police indiscriminately shooting at protesters, none of whom, including Mudassir, appear to be carrying firearms.
The boy’s father says he wants answers.
“I lost my only son to this violence,” Alam said. “He was only 15 years old, he wasn’t even an adult.”
Father and son were working at the family’s fruit stand on Mahatma Gandhi Main Road, a main thoroughfare through Ranchi, when protesters gathered after Friday prayers, Alam told CNN.
“I was removing my fruit stand to prevent damage from the protests,” he said. “Mudassir was helping me.”
Alam described his son as a “very polite kid” who, like many teenagers his age, loved making TikTok videos and taking photos on his cell phone.
In a report to Ranchi police, filed two days after her son’s death, Alam said she saw a “mob” from the “Muslim community” moving north along the main road, and when they reached the Shree Sankat temple Mochan Hanuman, Mudassir joined them.
Alam claimed that the men standing on the roof of the temple began throwing stones at the protesters and fired into the crowd.
A video from inside the Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, verified by CNN, shows several people sheltering on the ground floor, including police officers.
Over the sound of shells hitting the building, a terrified woman’s voice says, “Everyone is throwing stones at the temple. The administration is trying to stop it…but they can’t.” Through the temple’s security screens, protesters can be seen throwing stones.
Another video shows crowds outside, throwing rocks at the temple before shots are fired. It is unclear who is shooting, but the crowd is seen leading away an unidentified man whose white clothes appear to be stained with blood.
Towards the end of the video, armed police officers are seen walking towards the Muslim protesters, who have retreated from their position outside the temple.
Under India’s Criminal Procedure Code, police officers can use “force” to disperse what they deem to be an illegal gathering.
Irfan Ansari, a Muslim lawmaker from the Indian Congress party, which is part of the ruling coalition in the state, questioned why police fired on the crowd and said he would demand that the Chief Minister order a judicial inquiry.
“The Ranchi incident has embarrassed the state,” Ansari wrote on Twitter. “The job of the police is to protect, not to shoot.”
Muslims feel attacked
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 pro-Hindu policies.
India’s Muslim population of 220 million is vastly outnumbered in a country of 1.4 billion people, and though India claims to be a secular country, many Muslims say they live in fear.
Recent comments by former BJP representatives about the Prophet Muhammad have not only angered Muslims in India. At least 15 Muslim-majority countries condemned the comments, with some demanding a diplomatic response from Indian ambassadors.
Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said at a town hall organized by CNN affiliate 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 deal with us, we are their image of India. The countries that had concerns appreciate that this was not the position of the government,” she added.
But high-level diplomacy has failed to quell anger on the Indian streets, where the comments sparked protests in several major cities. In some places, Muslims say they have been attacked for speaking out.
Authorities defended their actions by saying they were targeting illegally built homes on public land whose owners had ignored repeated demolition notices.
But the victims told CNN that only Muslim homes had been destroyed and no warning was given before their properties were reduced to rubble.
In a statement last week, Amnesty accused the Indian government of “selectively and brutally suppressing Muslims who dare to speak out and peacefully express their dissent against the discrimination they face.”
Aakar Patel, chairman of the board of directors of Amnesty International India, told CNN that the authorities were “in violation of Indian law and India’s obligations under 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 guise of trying to make sure there is no violence on the street,” said. he said she.
The family demands answers
At the family’s modest home in Ranchi last Wednesday, women surrounded Mudassir’s grieving mother, Nikhat Parveen, wiping tears from her eyes as she wept.
Parveen told CNN that Mudassir had called her after he finished helping her father to tell him he was coming home. “She left her phone behind and then she died,” Parveen said.
She said her son was awaiting his high school exam results, and on Tuesday they found out he got A’s in five of his six Year 10 subjects.
“He used to tell me, ‘I’m going to get a government job. I’m going to go far in life,'” Parveen said.
“He was incredibly smart…he was loved by everyone. He’s not here today, and everyone has tears in their eyes.”
His father, Alam, said police have so far thwarted his efforts to file an FIR, a first information report, which is required to launch an official investigation.
“We have been trying 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 claim and Alam’s other allegations, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Alam said her son’s death has robbed her family of its future.
“I am (a) poor day laborer, me and my son (already dead) sold fruits 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 on a busy street where there were children, like her son.
“Does anyone have the right to do that? Does the police or whoever have the right to fire shots like this?”
When asked what he wanted from the police, he said determinedly, “I want justice for my son.”
CNN’s Arpit Goel and Teele Rebane contributed to this report.