The father of a juvenile charged with being part of the mob that lynched Mohammad Ikhlaq in Bisada last week is heartbroken that his son is an accused in the brutal murder of a childhood friend.
The man, who did not want to be identified, recalled his long association with 55-year-old Ikhlaq, including the exchange of sweets during Hindu celebrations and the sharing of mutton dishes cooked by Ikhlaq’s mother for Muslim festivals.
“He (Ikhlaq) was my childhood friend and now my son has been made an accused in his murder,” he told Hindustan Times.
Bisada was a close-knit community and Ikhlaq’s lynching on September 28 was unimaginable, the man said.
A mob lynched Ikhlaq and severely injured his son Danish over rumours that he had slaughtered a calf on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha.
Ikhlaq was a blacksmith and would take the help of the juvenile’s father for fixing electric tools.
“In a village like this, we used to work for each other to meet our daily wages. This is how our economy goes. Ikhlaq worked for me many times in fixing things and I have paid him for that. I have also worked for him a number of times,” the man said.
“A few days before his death, he had called me to repair a ceiling fan,” he added. “Ikhlaq owed me Rs 100,” the man said, showing a list where he had recorded transactions.
The man further said Ikhlaq’s mother would “cook very tasty mutton during their festivals”. He added: “They used to share the meat with us. We also shared sweets during the festivals of Diwali and Holi with them. Our generation was generous. I don’t know what’s wrong with the kids who did this.”
Ikhlaq, the man said, often travelled to Pakistan to meet his aunt. He also brought gifts for the families of people accused of involvement in the lynching.
“Some 10 to 15 years back, when he went to Pakistan, he had brought a shaving razor for me. He had also gifted many items to his neighbours, whose children are now accused of lynching him,” he said.
Ikhlaq’s aunt from Pakistan visited his residence in Bisada many years ago. “We also met her to know about Pakistan,” the man said.
About 25 years ago, the juvenile’s father was booked in a theft case with Ikhlaq and two other persons. They were all detained by police at the time.
“Somebody’s bus was standing in our locality and its seat got stolen. Ikhlaq was standing with me near the temple from where the police picked us up. We went to the lock-up together,” he said.
The man said he has full faith in the judiciary and is waiting for his son to return home. “My son had left home seven days ago. I hope he will return soon,” he said.