‘Notorious goons’: Why passersby refused to intervene in Shahbad Dairy murder of 16-year-old girl
On Monday, as people gathered in Shahbad Dairy neighbourhood where the murder happened, hardly anyone wished to be identified as an eyewitness to the crime.
“It was a frightening sight”.
A mother of one, Alka ran outside to get her six year-old son after hearing screams at around 9pm on Sunday, as a girl was being brutally stabbed to death.
“As soon as I spotted my son playing on the street, I pulled him indoors. It was frightening,” said Alka.
Another man, whose house is located right behind the murder spot, said the sound of his television set was too loud for him to hear the cries.
“But if people living right outside the house where the murder happened did not intervene, why would we,” said the man, who refused to identify himself.
His words were corroborated by a CCTV footage of the killing that surfaced hours later on Monday.
People, mostly men, kept walking before some turning their heads as 20-year-old Sahil pinned the 16-year-old girl to a wall in a narrow lane and stabbed her at least 16 times at around 8pm on Sunday. With his back to the passersby, he then pounded her with a stone slab thrice even as people kept going, with one even stopping for a second to peak at the brutality but then moving on silently.
The alley, bright with lights from adjacent houses, was suddenly deserted except for the dead girl and Sahil, when he finally stepped and walked away. Barely a second later, a few men appeared, seemingly alarmed. But as Sahil appeared again and started kicking on the stone slab still lying on the body, the men, like everybody else, walked away.
Sahil was not stopped by anyone despite him not seeming to threaten the others, as seen in the 1 minute 27 second video which recorded at least 12 passersby, and which police confirmed as authentic.
On Monday, as people gathered in the Shahbad Dairy neighbourhood where the murder happened, hardly anyone wished to be identified as an eyewitness to this crime.
Residents said that they would have preferred to keep away even if Sahil was armed.
“Shahbad Dairy’s goons are notorious across the city and we do not dare to encounter them,” said Sunita Mathur, a local.
However, Indra Dev, whose son was allegedly captured in the CCTV footage, said that he should have tried to save the victim instead of watching helplessly. “He was so frightened when he got back home, but any brave effort by him could saved the girl,” said Dev. His son was called by the police for questioning.
But Dev said he understood his son’s decision to keep away.
“This neighbourhood, and particularly this street, is notorious for drug abusers. People drink openly, and if anyone questions them, they abuse and attack them. Few would want to risk their lives in a place where such attacks are so common,” said Dev.
On Monday, even as a crowd of local residents, curious onlookers, politicians, journalists and police personnel stood around the murder spot, some youngsters indulged in drugs in a public toilet nearby.
Residents said they were wary of falling into trouble. “These drug abusers carry blades at times,” said another local woman, Roop Kala.
Vikram Singh, former director general of UP Police, said that this was an avoidable murder.
“People could simply have shouted to frighten Sahil or hurled bricks at him to dissuade him. With 12-13 people standing there, it was very possible to save her,” said Singh.
According to Singh, people may have been afraid of questioning and interrogation by police. “But in a city like Delhi., which has a sizeable educated population, people should have intervened to save the girl,” said Singh.
While Sahil was arrested hours after the crime from Bulandshahr, a senior police officer said that no one in his family, except his father, was formally detained.
“We did not detain any eyewitnesses. But we questioned them. Four of them said they could not help the police with any description of the crime,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.
While no one intervened during the killing, the commotion it caused later was finally loud enough to overpower the sounds of the neighbour’s TV.
“By the time I emerged from my house, it was all over. The girl was dead.”