On Sunday, Aftab Alam, a resident of Trilokpuri, Noida was murdered by a group of drunk men. His bruised, lifeless body was found tied to the side of his own car.
Sabir, his 20-year-old son, broke down upon recalling the sight of his dead father. “His tongue area was badly bruised, ears were bleeding, there was a big cut on his face. This is clearly a case of mob lynching,” he said. “But the police has only registered a robbery case.”
“We are Muslims, but we have a right to live,” he added.
According to Sabir, while his father was returning from Bulandshahar, he gave a lift to a few men who forced him to drop them. Sabir got a call from his father’s number where he could listen to the conversation between the men and his father. He told The Wire that he heard “drunk” men on the other end of the phone asking his father if he would like to drink. Alam said ‘no’, Sabir heard. The men then asked him his name, according to Sabir. In the audio file of the call, one of the men can be heard saying, “Jai Shri Ram bol, bol Jai Shri Ram”. 11 minutes later, one of the men can be heard saying, “Saans ruk gayi.” ‘He has stopped breathing’, The Wire reported.
Sabir told TwoCircles.net that he heard them ask his father, “Are you Muslim?”. “It was something unusual so I started recording,” he added.
“A police patrolling vehicle found the Delhi-registered taxi parked along the Badalpur-Dadri bypass road, on checking, a person was found on the seat next to the driver’s seat in a severely injured condition,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central Noida, Harish Chander said.
Rajiv Kumar, assistant commissioner of police 2 Zone 2 Noida, said Alam was found with head injuries, while the accused had escaped, The Indian Express reported.
However, the Badalpur police station house officer denied that it was a case of “mob lynching” or “hate crime” and said that the case is being investigated.
Sabir alleges that the police did not inform him though they already knew about it from the police who were on duty near the area of the incident. The police have told Aftab’s family that they have collected the footage of 3 people from the nearest toll plaza but have withheld showing the photographs to them.
“They say we are investigating,” says Sabir, adding, “Mob lynching is becoming normal in UP.”
Alam’s father, 65-year-old Mohammad Tahir, said, “Had it been a case of robbery, why wouldn’t they take the car? They would have stolen the car and thrown his body out on the street. This was clearly a case of mob lynching. They only took the mobile phone.”
The FIR, registered on the same night, charged the anonymous assaulters under sections 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) 302 (punishment for murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender).
Alam had been working as a driver since 1996. Driving was his main livelihood. He has a wife, his three sons, ailing parents and two siblings, all of whom depend on him and Sabir financially.
During the lockdown, Alam had not stepped out due to fear of contracting and spreading the coronavirus, said his family. However, when a family friend, an old client, called him up to ask if he could drop them from Gurgaon to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, he could not refuse. Having earned no money during the lockdown and struggling to make ends meet, Alam thought that the trip would be a good idea.