Family of the 28-year-old victim cry foul; ‘I saw them with my own eyes and I know them,’ says Rashid, the man who was also attacked along with Asif but who managed to flee
Ahmed Kasim | Clarion India
KHALILPUR, Nuh — Haryana Police has released four people accused in the murder of 28-year-old gym trainer Asif Khan who was lynched by a mob in the Mewat region of Haryana last month.
The accused Anoop, Mahinder, Rajkumar and Sandeep were released on Wednesday after police filed a discharge application in the court, Station House officer of Rojka Meo Police Station said.
“During the investigation we found them innocent,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Sudhir Taneja, who is heading the SIT, told Clarion India.
However, the family of Asif were dismayed to hear the news. They said the four accused are among “main culprits” in the murder case.
Rashid, a cousin of Asif and the main eyewitness who was also attacked but managed to flee, alleged that these four men were part of the mob. “I saw them with my own eyes and I know them,” Rashid told Clarion India. Mohammad Haneef, Asif’s uncle, said that these four have also been named in the family complaint and Rashid’s statement that they were part of the mob.
When Clarion India raised Rashid’s claim about the four men with Taneja, the DSP, retorted: “See, he may have seen them but we are doing our investigation. Are we supposed to follow him or do it on our own?” He said, “We investigated and did not find them involved. That’s it.”
Asif’s father Husain, however, says that the release of the four accused was a result of the pressure exerted on the administration after various panchayats (gatherings), followed by the mahapanchayat (massive gathering) of Hindus held recently in support of Asif’s killers. “The purpose of these panchayats was to pressurise the government to free the murderers, and that’s exactly what has happened,” Husain lamented. “The administration was doing a good job but after the release of these four men our trust has shaken,” he added.
According to him, around 30 people were involved in the murder of his son. He knows them all, Husain claimed.
Asif was lynched on May 16 by a gang of goons when he was in his car on the way to his home. His cousin Rashid, according to reports, had alleged that the gang had forced Asif to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and warned that they will kill all Muslims. Rashid had managed to escape after having been brutally thrashed by the goons.
The police filed a case naming 14 people but said that the murder had no communal angle and was a result of personal animosity.
A number of gatherings by Hindutva supporters were held in different villages of Mewat including in Kira village, Damdama village, Badauli village and Sohna town and a Mahapanchayat in Indri village, four kilometres from Asif’s village, on May 30 in support of the accused. The gatherings demanded that police should release the accused. Several speakers, including local BJP leaders, made unsubstantiated allegations against the deceased that he would click nude pictures of Hindu women.
Reacting to these claims, Asif’s uncle, Haneef, said, “This is a total lie. If it is true then they should come with evidence.”
The gatherings were marked with violent hate speeches against Muslim community.
A Hindutva activist Bittu Bajrangi called Muslims ‘pigs’ and himself ‘jihadiyon ka jija (brother-in-law of jihadis) in one video that has gone viral. “The people who killed Asif to send him to 72 hoors have done a good job. We stand with their families,” said Bittu, who came from Faridabad to attend the mahapanchayat.
Suraj Pal Amu, the head of Karni Sena, a Hindu right-wing extremist outfit, began his speech in Indri asking the crowd if they are “true Hindus” or whether there are any “Pakistan ki aulaad” (child of Pakistan).
Amu said he would shoot Muslims and threw a challenge to his audience: “let’s see who has drunk the milk of his mother to stop us.”
Haneef, Asif’s uncle, told Clarion India that the gatherings in support of Khan’s killers were held to “suppress Muslims” and to “disturb the Hindu-Muslim brotherhood of the area”.
He castigated the police for allowing the people to gather despite Covid-19 restrictions. “The administration did not ask them why they were holding huge gatherings during Covid. Apparently the administration is supporting them,” Haneef alleged.
Asif’s family and some Muslim activists approached police with complained against the gatherings and the speeches made but so far no action has been taken in this respect.
According to a report in The Quint, police are still looking into the contents of the speeches. The Superintendent of Police, Nuh, Narendra Bijarniya, has been quoted as saying that they are probing the sequence of events before taking any formal action.
Meanwhile, while four accused have been set free, a number of accused named in the FIR, including Advani, Bheem, Nathu, Balla, Rishi and Sonu, are still absconding.
“Our teams are after them, they will be arrested soon” said Taneja, the DSP, adding that the cyber cell of the police is also involved to track them down.
– Additional reporting by Zafar Aafaq