7 nabbed for head constable Rattan Lal’s murder in Northeast Delhi riots

Updated on Mar 13, 2020 12:29 AM IST

The families and friends of all the seven arrested men refuted the allegations that they had killed the policeman and denied that they were not even near the murder spot.

Seven have been held for killing constable Ratan Lal.(PTI photo)
Seven have been held for killing constable Ratan Lal.(PTI photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByShiv Sunny

New Delhi: Five garments traders and a property dealer from Chand Bagh, and a cab driver from Ghaziabad, have been arrested for killing head constable Rattan Lal in the north-east Delhi riots, the Police said on Thursday and listed “videos and photographs, statements of eyewitnesses and technical evidence” which helped in identifying the suspects.

The families and friends of all the seven arrested men refuted the allegations that they had killed the policeman and denied that they were not even near the murder spot. However, in one case they agreed that the suspect was carrying a metal rod to “defend” them against the mob and in some cases agreed that they had gone out to “see what was happening”.

Lal’s death was the first reported casualty when incidents of stone pelting in north-east Delhi on February 23 turned into a full-blown riot the next morning. He had received a bullet wound, apart from multiple injuries to his head and body during one of many incidents of stone-pelting that took place that day.

FIVE FROM ONE LANE

Five of the seven suspects live in the same lane in Chand Bagh. On Thursday, the relatives of one of them, 33-year-old property dealer Mohammad Jalaluddin, looked surprised on knowing that he had been arrested for murder.

“The police had already called him for questioning on Monday. He was told that his help was being sought to identify other rioters. On Tuesday, the police again called him before arresting him. We thought he was arrested only for rioting,” said Jalaluddin’s brother, Mehtab, who insisted that his brother had only briefly ventured out of home on February 24 to see what was happening.

A few buildings away, the wife of 35-year-old Mohammad Ayub, peeped from her window to accuse the police of arresting a man who had “stayed home” after closing his shop when the rioting began that day. “The police visited him repeatedly at his shop for two days before arresting him. If he had killed a policeman, wouldn’t he have gone underground,” said the wife.

Ayub’s younger brother, Yunus, who lives in lane number eight, too has been arrested for the policeman’s murder.

‘ONLY DEFENDING US’

Their mother, Sareefan, who lives with Yunus, acknowledged that he was among the rioters and carried a rod, but denied he was a killer. “When the rival mob was shooting towards our colony, some people handed him an iron rod to defend us. Was it wrong for him to defend our homes and our women?” Sareefan asked.

The mother of another accused, 27-year-old Mohammad Arif, insisted that her son was with her during the two entire days of the rioting. “When the rioting was happening in the early afternoon, I got his garments shop closed and brought him home. He stayed with me for two days,” said Anwari.

His father, Mohammad Mushtaq, however, said before Arif could be brought home, he was captured by a CCTV camera while standing outside his shop. “The police have showed us that image as evidence against him. Is merely standing in a lane a crime? There was no weapon in his hands. Moreover, the policeman was killed many hundred metres away from the spot where he was captured on camera,” said Mushtaq.

In the same lane, a dozen employees of garments exporter, 46-year-old Mohammad Saleem Khan, are yet to receive their salaries since he has been arrested for the same murder. But they have stayed put in the hope that he would be released. “He was in his office the entire two days of the riots. We were with him. We’ll testify in court in his favour if need be,” said one employee, Anwar.

The relatives of another arrested garments trader, 38-year-old Saleem Malik, too insisted that he was innocent, but refused to speak any more. “We don’t trust the media,” said a relative.

The seventh man arrested for this murder is a resident of Loni in Ghaziabad. The cab driver, 23-year-old Mohammad Danish, is so far the only arrested man the Delhi Police have so far specifically identified as an “outsider” directly involved in the riots.

Danish’s mother, Tabassum Khan, said her son had no criminal antecedents and that he had gone to meet his sister in another part of Ghaziabad when the riots had erupted. She insisted that he had stayed at his sister’s home in Lalbagh Colony that day and had nothing to do with the riots.

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