Muslim Sounding Name Took Life of My Son Sahil, Mourns Sangeeta, Mother of Mob-lynching Victim

Sahil Singh who was brutally beaten by mob as they mistook him as a Muslim by his name in Delhi.

“They have killed a young adult, 23 year old boy and police is treating the case as if a fly has been killed,” says the disgruntled father of the victim. “Whenever I visit the police station, the officers there feel annoyed and shoo me away.”

Zafar Aafaq | Caravan Daily

WHAT’S in the name? In India If you have a name that sounds Muslim, it could invite a murderous mob to kill you.

Sahil Singh was unfortunate that he had a religion neutral name. “They brutally beat Sahil because they mistook him as Mohammadan (another term for Muslims in India) after hearing his friends shouted his name,” Sangeeta, his mother recounts.

Sunil Singh and his wife Sangeeta live in Maujpur, a locality in the northern outskirts of Delhi, with their two kids. Their home — a two room apartment is located in Krishna Gali, a narrow lane that emerges out at the gates of Maujpur metro station.

On August 30, Sahil Singh and his friends entered a ‘forbidden lane’. It did not go down well with some inhabitants, mostly Pandits — a top sect of priestly Brahmin class in Hindu system of socio religious stratification — and asked them why they were walking through the lane. Sahil belonged to Thakur family. The argument provoked an altercation between two sides culminating in the murder of Sahil Singh.

India has seen an increase in street violence against Muslims following the ascension of right wing government to power led by Hindu nationalist party, the BJP. The murder of Sahil Singh is just another indication that the vigilante violence is becoming increasingly normalised.

Sahil had come home gasping and thirsty.  Within a few moments he passed away in his mother’s lap. But before taking his last breaths, Sahil had a short parting conversation with his mother in which he recounted his ordeal.

“I am innocent, I was just trying to reconcile the two groups but they beat me after hearing my friends call me my name. They thought I am a Mohammadan and thrashed me and hit me in the back with a log of wood,” Sangeeta struggles to recall the brief conversation with his dying son.

According to Sangeeta, Sahil had pleaded before the mob and reassured that they wouldn’t be using the lane again but they beat him fatally. Sahil had named certain Chandarban as the main culprit during his conversation with mother.

Sangeeta had taken him to the hospital which was 2 miles away from their home. There the doctors declared him brought dead. “At hospital I realised that Sahil Babu had passed away in my lap,” Sangeeta’s voice cracks as she recollects those painful parting moments.

Who was Sahil?

A framed portrait of dashing Sahil is mounted on the wall of lobby in the apartment. “We put on the 13th day of this death” – tradition in the community in honour of the deceased. Sahil looks debonair in the photos. “He would frequently share them on his Facebook,” Sahil’s sister, a primary school student, says with a flashing smile.

Sahil Singh with his mother Sangeeta. — Facebook photo

He was a nice boy and everyone in the neighbourhood had respected him for his good manners, his father Sunil says.

The family is associated with construction material business. Few years ago Sunil underwent a surgery in his knee and since then his capacity to work has waned forcing Sahil to work at the young age. The family was now fending on Sahil. “He was our earning hand,” Sangeeta says.

They are struggling to make their ends meet. “We have no one to bank upon.” She says, adding that they can’t afford to hire a lawyer to fight their case.

The murder of the son has triggered a sense of fear and paranoia in the family.  “I don’t send my other two kids to school,” she says. “I fear if something untoward happens to them what we will do then.” Sangeeta says she hasn’t had a proper sleep since that fateful day. “I cry all night thinking about Sahil.”

Around Twenty five years ago Sunil and Sangeeta married in Gazipur, Uttar Pradesh. Thereafter, the couple came to Delhi in search of work. They arrived in Jaffarabad area of north Delhi and a Muslim family gave them a place to reside. “They also gave me work,” Sunil says.

A year later they had a son. He was given the name of Sahil by the sister of Javed Ahmad, the family head. Sahil means the sea shore and cuts across the religious nomenclature. “I don’t know what sin we had committed naming our Son Sahil,” Sangeeta bemoaned.

The murder has shattered the dreams of the family. Just recently the family had seen a girl for Sahil and they were reading for his marriage next year. “The other side had said yes.” They were just waiting for her to attain the marriageable age. “She will turn 18 next month.”

Apprehensions of Police inaction

The police immediately arrested two persons in the case including 45 years old Chandarban and his son and started investigations.

According to Sunil, Chandarban has confessed that he had mistakenly beaten Sahil thinking he was a Muslim.

However, family alleges, there were six more persons involved in the fatal violence inflicted on Sahil. “Police is behaving callously. They should arrest the six others who were also involved in thrashing my son.” Sangeeta while recalling the eye witness accounts from the crime scene asked, how could just two people beat a young athletic boy?

“They have killed a young adult, 23 year old boy and police is treating the case as if a fly has been killed,” says the disgruntled Sunil. “Whenever I visit the police station, the officers there feel annoyed and shoo me away.”

The family is apprehensive that police will be bribed and will not investigate the case on merit. “Police knows they will gain nothing from us,” Sangeeta bemoaned. “They did not even come here to record my statement.”

The couple alleges, that the cameras recorded the scenes of the crime but police is not using that as the evidence in the case. “It seems that they have destroyed the CCTV footage.”

Demand for Justice

The family demands that the culprits should be given strict punishment to make the case a lesson for others. “The people who murdered our son should be hanged or put in jail for life,” Sangeeta asked that no politics should be played over the murder of his son. “I don’t want any innocent person to be punished for my son’s murder.”

Sunil is upset over the spate of mob violence that has gripped India. This communal violence should stop. “No one deserves to be lynched, be it a Muslim or a Hindu,” Sunil says. “Government should take steps to stop the spread of violence being committed in the name of religion.



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