Footage of the June 10 protests posted to social media shows 15-year-old Mudassir Alam raising his fist in the air as the crowd chanted “Long live Islam.”
More shots ring out and Mudassir falls to the ground.
“He is dead!” shouts a bystander as people try to stem the flow of blood from a wound to 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 divide between India’s predominantly Hindu population and Muslim minority.
The June 10 protest was one of several demonstrations that broke out across the country after two former spokesmen for India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made derogatory comments about the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
Mudassir’s grieving father, Parvez Alam, does not know who killed his teenage son, but in a police complaint he accused officers of “shooting indiscriminately AK-47s and pistols at the Muslim mob”.
He claimed at least three other men fired bullets at protesters from the roof of the Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman Hindu temple near where Mudassir stood in the street.
“Because of the fire from the temple roof 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 Science from “gunshot wounds” sustained during the protest.
Ansari’s father, Mohammad Afzal, told CNN his 20-year-old son had just returned home from his job selling cellphones at the market when “the police opened fire.”
Ranjan said “the police opened fire because the mob was violent and the initial shots came from the mob,” but declined to comment on which mob he was referring to and said the matter was being investigated.
Jharkhand Police Inspector General Amol Homkar said a two-man committee had been formed to investigate the incident and a special investigation team from Ranchi Police was also investigating. Homkar said 12 people were injured during the protest and 30 have been arrested in the days since, although he has not pressed charges.
CNN has investigated footage of the protest that at times shows police firing indiscriminately at the protesters, none of whom – including Mudassir – appear to be carrying firearms.
The boy’s father wants answers.
“I lost my only child to this violence,” Alam said. “He was only 15, not even an adult.”
Father and son were working at the family fruit stand on Mahatma Gandhi Main Road, a main thoroughfare through Ranchi, when protesters gathered after Friday prayers, Alam told CNN.
“I removed my fruit kiosk to avoid damage from 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 snapping photos on his 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 saw the When they reached Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Mudassir joined them.
Alam claimed the men standing on the roof of the temple threw stones at the protesters and fired shots into the crowd.
Video from inside the Shree Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, verified by CNN, shows several people taking shelter on the ground floor, including police officers.
Over the sound of projectiles hitting the building, a woman’s panicked voice says, “Everybody’s throwing stones at the temple. Protesters can be seen throwing stones through the temple’s security curtains.
Another video shows crowds outside hurling rocks at the temple before gunfire rings out. It’s not clear who fired the shots, but the crowd carries away an unidentified man whose white clothing appears to be stained with blood.
Towards the end of the video, armed police can be seen approaching the Muslim protesters, who have retreated from their position outside the temple.
Under India’s Code of Criminal Procedure, police officers may use “force” to disperse what they deem to be an unlawful assembly.
Irfan Ansari, a Muslim MP for India’s Congress Party, which is part of the state’s ruling coalition, asked why police fired bullets at the crowd and said he would demand the prime minister to order an inquest.
“The Ranchi incident has shamed the state,” Ansari wrote on Twitter. “It’s the job of the police to protect, not shoot.”
Muslims feel attacked
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party came to power in 2014, Muslims say they have been unfairly treated 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, and although India claims to be a secular country, many Muslims say they live in fear.
Recent statements by former BJP officials about the Prophet Mohammed have not only angered Muslims in India. At least 15 Muslim-majority nations condemned the comments, and some called for a diplomatic response from Indian ambassadors.
India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar told CNN affiliate News-18 in a town hall on Saturday that the comments did not reflect the views of the BJP.
“What was said was not the position of the party. The party has made it very clear and taken action,” Jaishankar said.
“Some countries had concerns about this. They negotiate with us, we are their image of India. Countries that had concerns appreciate that this was not the government’s position,” he added.
But senior diplomacy has failed to calm anger on Indian streets, where the comments sparked protests in several major cities. In some places, Muslims say they were targeted for speaking out.
Authorities defended their actions by targeting houses illegally built on public land whose owners had ignored repeated demolition announcements.
But the victims told CNN that only Muslim homes had been destroyed and that no warning was given before their property was reduced to rubble.
In a statement last week, Amnesty accused the Indian government of “selective and vicious action against Muslims who dare to speak out and peacefully express their opposition to the discrimination they face”.
Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India Board, told CNN that the authorities are “violating Indian law and Indian obligations under various treaties that the country has signed”.
“What India is doing is, without going through the judicial process, (it) targets Muslims, targets their homes, even shoots them dead – all under the pretense of making sure there is no street violence,” he said said.
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 wailed.
Parveen told CNN Mudassir called her after he finished helping his father to tell him he was coming home. “He put his phone down and then he died,” Parveen said.
She said her son is waiting for his high school test results, and on Tuesday they found out he got straight A’s in five of his 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,'” said Parveen.
“He was incredibly intelligent… 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 – 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 reported it to the police, but they didn’t register it.”
Homkar declined to comment on the claim and Alam’s other claims that await the result of the investigation.
Alam said his son’s death deprived his family of a future.
“I am (a) poor worker, me and my son (now dead) would sell fruit and vegetables. He was the only son and the future of my family,” he wrote in his complaint to the police.
Mudassir’s mother asked why shots had to be fired on a busy street where children like her son were present.
“Does anyone have the right? Do the police or anyone else have the right to fire shots like that?”
When asked what she wanted from the police, she said firmly, “I want justice for my son.”
CNN’s Arpit Goel and Teele Rebane contributed to this report.