Delhi’s Moti Nagar murder not a hate crime, insists victim’s family
The relatives said not only did their Muslim neighbours save the businessman’s daughter from being physically assaulted by the assailants, they also rushed the injured businessman and his 19-year-old son to a hospital on scooters in the early hours of Sunday.Updated: May 15, 2019 06:18 IST
Two days after a businessman was stabbed to death in west Delhi’s Moti Nagar for allegedly standing up to his neighbours who were harassing his daughter, social media was flooded with messages that sought to give a communal tinge to the incident. But, denouncing attempts to communalise the tragedy that struck them, the businessman’s relatives on Tuesday said it was a Muslim family that had come to their rescue, while others “ only watched”.
The relatives said not only did their Muslim neighbours save the businessman’s daughter from being physically assaulted by the assailants, they also rushed the injured businessman and his 19-year-old son to a hospital on scooters in the early hours of Sunday.
The 51-year-old businessman, a Hindu, succumbed to injuries on Monday while his son continues to remain hospitalised. The police have responded by apprehending the four alleged assailants — a rickshaw puller and his three sons — all Muslims.
The communalisation of the murder began after news spread on social media that it were some Muslims who had killed the Hindu businessman in Basai Darapur village of Moti Nagar after he protested their lewd gestures at his daughter. The businessman’s teenage son, too, was stabbed.
A tweet from the official account of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit questioned chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s silence on the incident even as it drew a comparison with his tweet in March when a Muslim family was attacked in Gurugram’s Bhondsi.
Kejriwal later used Twitter to call upon the Delhi Police to take “strongest action against the guilty” even as the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) sought a report on the incident from the police.
In Basai Darapur village, politicians and activists kept visiting the businessman’s relatives through Tuesday even as a number of police personnel were deployed in the neighbourhood to prevent the situation from escalating. According to local estimates, the village has a population of over 30,000 of whom less than 10% are Muslims, most of them migrants living on rent.
The murdered businessman’s brother said there were repeated attempts by some visitors to communalise the incident. “We have pleaded with so many people not to see the crime though a Hindu-Muslim prism. The killers were habitual criminals who did not see the religion of their victims before harassing them,” he said.
“My niece (the businessman’s daughter) is also pained by the communalisation. She is an educated woman who has friends from all religions and she strongly believes in secularism,” the brother said.
He said it was their Muslim neighbours who had come to their rescue after the businessman and his son were stabbed.
It had all begun while the businessman and his 22-year-old daughter were returning home on a motorcycle after visiting a hospital.
“Three or four drunk youngsters, who often harass women, were blocking the entrance to our lane. When my uncle asked them to move, they made lewd comments about my cousin. When my uncle protested, one of them began touching her hair,” the nephew of the businessman said.
The businessman decided to drop his daughter home and return to confront the harassers. “My cousin begged her father not to go, but he thought he could convince the father of the youngsters to keep them in check,” the nephew said.
The businessman’s complaint snowballed into a confrontation and the three siblings and their father allegedly stabbed him multiple times. When the businessman’s son intervened, he was also stabbed.
Just then, the businessman’s wife and daughter also reached the spot. “One of the attackers began assaulting my cousin and she was saved only because a Muslim family — one that is like our own for decades — came to her rescue,” the nephew said.
A member of that Muslim family, a 32-year-old builder, said he rushed out on hearing the screams of a woman. “One of the men was holding the businessman’s daughter by the throat. Another was about to hit her with a stone when my brother, father and I rushed to her help,” the builder said.
“We were able to send away the attackers and we used our two-wheelers to rush the injured father and son to the hospital,” the builder said, adding that he was “pained by the murder and the attempts to communalise it”.
“To all those who want to communalise this, I want them to know that there were many families in that lane, but they only watched the crime from their terraces,” he said.
The builder’s family, meanwhile, is under “pressure” from those in their community. “Some Muslims have been calling to say that I have been acting against my own community. Others are warning me against getting involved in “someone else’s matter”. They don’t realise that for me, the businessman and his family are like my own,” he said.
The police, meanwhile, dismissed reports and “rumours” that one of the killers was arrested earlier in an attempt to murder case. “There was no police case against any of the accused in the past,” a senior police officer said.
Monika Bhardwaj, deputy commissioner of police (west), said apart from police personnel in uniform, those in plainclothes, too, have been deployed to keep an eye on rumour-mongers.
AAP’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh condemned the attack, saying “political forces” should not give a religious colour to the incident.
“It was an unfortunate incident which should not be mixed with religion. Some fringe groups are trying to give the incident a religious angle but that is unacceptable,” he said.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari termed the incident “heartbreaking” and demanded speedy justice and adequate compensation to the victim’s family.
First Published: May 15, 2019 06:18 IST