Ground Report: Migrant Slum Dwellers Kill Delhi Boy Rahul Rajput For Relationship With A Muslim Girl
The police have arrested five people, including three minors, for murder.
Past an array of bungalows in Moolchand Colony in northwest Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar, is a narrow lane housing relatively lower-income families. Rahul Rajput, 20, lived here.
He died on the night of 7 October after being beaten up by a mob of slum-dwellers near his house.
Police teams are standing guard every few metres. Outside Rahul’s house, a group of young men are huddled together, watching television news reporters taking bytes from policemen and Rahul’s relatives. They are however mum on the details of the case.
Inside the house, men are mourning quietly in a small, cramped room near the entrance while women are sobbing and crying in another room.
Rahul’s mother Renuka recalls the moments before he stepped out of the house to meet the men who would beat him to death.
“It was around 6 pm on 7 October. Shehgufa called on the number of my devrani [sister-in-law]. She asked Rahul to come out and meet someone. Rahul promptly left, telling us some boys want to talk to him about his tuition classes and he would be back soon,” says Renuka.
Shehgufa, a Muslim woman, is a friend of Rahul and possibly his girlfriend. The mob that beat up Rahul comprised of Shehgufa’s brother, cousin and their friends. They were reportedly incensed over her relationship with Rahul.
Rahul had recently shared her chachi’s phone number with his friends as his previous number was no more in use.
Renuka denies any relationship, and says she saw Shehgufa for the first time on the day of her son’s death. She is unfamiliar with anybody from the mob too.
A few minutes after Rahul had left, some boys rushed to Renuka informing her that he was being thrashed. Soon, her brother-in-law Dharampal brought an injured Rahul home. “Rahul was looking exhausted, but there was not a drop of blood on his body. We helped him lie down, and gave him haldi-doodh,” she says.
“His condition deteriorated. We immediately took him to a local clinic, but what treatment could the doctor give when there was no visible wound? Soon, Rahul was barely conscious. We rushed him to Babu Jagjivan Ram hospital. The doctor said they needed to do a Covid-19 test first. I begged to him, saying I would get all the tests done, just please treat my son. They took my son in, but by 11 pm, they declared him dead.”
Shehgufa was present in the hospital that time. She was crying, Renuka recalls. The two saw each other, but exchanged no words.
The family received the body at 3 pm the next day. As per reports, doctors who conducted the post-mortem said that the rupturing of the spleen led to Rahul’s death.
Rahul has one sibling – a 16-year-old, school-going sister. The family lives with his grandmother and chacha’s family.
After finishing school, Rahul enrolled in Delhi University’s School of Open Learning for a BA degree. He was in second year. Until the lockdown began, he taught English for free for one-and-a-half-years at a non-profit institute named Freedom English Academy in Adarsh Nagar. It was only a month ago that he started giving tuition classes from home.
“He would earn nothing at Freedom school, despite working all day. He would tell us that the experience would later help him get a job. In lockdown, when we hit a financial crisis, Rahul set up his coaching classes from home. Even I took up a job,” she says.
The crisis was because of a new car that Rahul’s father Sanjay Kumar – who drives cabs for a living - bought a few weeks before lockdown. It was on EMI - Rs 17,000 per month for the next four years.
Leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party that runs the Delhi government have visited the family, and announced in the media a compensation of Rs 10 lakh.
Renuka says she has heard that it was at the Freedom academy that Rahul and Shehgufa met. “I have heard she was a student there. That institute teaches poor boys and girls from slum areas only. But I am not sure. Even I am gathering these details from news reports,” she says.
The group of men outside Rahul’s house aren’t sure of the details either.
A neighbour, Dinesh Bhardwaj, says theirs is an all-Hindu colony and residents live in harmony.
A man named Raju approaches the group, introduces himself as Rahul’s phoopha (paternal aunt's husband) and says that Rahul’s family has no enmity with any community either, and wants the strictest punishment for the killers, whoever they are, so an example is set for all times to come.
Raju, who lives in the neighbourhood, says none in the family are familiar with either the killers or the area they live in.
Outside the lane, some 50 metres on the left, is where the mob began beating up Rahul. A shop owner, who requests not to be named, says he saw the “jhagda”. “They were about 14-15 boys. They dragged him inside the street, so we could not see it all. But some CCTVs installed there have captured the footage,” he says.
The police have arrested five people so far, but revealed the names of only two – Manwar Hussain, son of Hasibul, and Mohammad Raj, son of Abdul Mahar Afroz. Police say the rest are minors. All are residents of Jahangirpuri, which is about two kilometres away.
Jahangirpuri is an almost all-Muslim settlement of largely Bengali migrants. The area saw months-long heated anti-CAA agitation, beginning in December.
Outside the ‘number gali two’ in C-block of Jahangirpuri, where a police statement says one of the accused lives, residents say they have not heard of any such incident. Inside the narrow lane, where every third shop has meat displayed openly, residents lead me to Hasibul and his wife Marjina Bibi.
Hasibul says his son, Manwar, is not a murderer. “Some boys came and forced him to tag along with them,” he says.
“I was in the hospital on 8 October all day. Both my wife and daughter-in-law are pregnant. As soon as I returned home that day, police came checking for Manwar,” he says.
Hasibul says Manwar was calm when he came downstairs to meet the cops, which was proof that he did not even know that the boy had died,” he says.
“My son neither knows the girl nor her brother, who orchestrated this. Please save my son,” says Hasibul, who has three sons, and runs a tiny grocery shop.
Other residents at the spot decline to speak.
On the other end of this colony, is a cluster of houses called ‘H Block JJ Camp’, where JJ stands for jhuggi-jhopdi. From this almost all-Muslim settlement, the police have arrested the rest of the four accused, including the girl’s brother Mohammad Raj.
This is what Shehgufa, an eye-witness to Rahul’s thrashing, told a news channel: “I was with Rahul earlier that day [on 7 October]. Rahul was unwell. Around 6 pm, my cousin [name withheld as he is said to be a minor] called me up saying he wants to talk to Rahul, but his number is going switched off. I said yes he is not using that number anymore so take her chachi’s number instead.
"My cousin asked Rahul to come out and meet him for five minutes. Rahul disconnected the call and asked me whether he should go. I said yes, let’s go and talk for five minutes. I called up my cousin and told him that Rahul is ready to meet so he can come to the spot. But as soon as they met, he and his group started beating up Rahul. I tried to stop them, but they did not.”
The JJ camp has a pradhan, a deputy pradhan, a secretary and a deputy secretary - all Muslims. Pradhan Sheikh Ishaaq says he was the one who got the four boys arrested. “Police approached me with the names and photographs of the accused. I took them to each house and got them arrested. If they have done the murder, let them be hanged,” he says.
“But don’t trap innocents. That’s all we want to say. And don’t make it a Hindu-Muslim issue like some channels are making,” he says.
The one-room tenement where Shehgufa lives, is vacant, with only a younger brother at home.
Neighbours say Shehgufa is about 22. Her father, Abdul Mahar Afroz, is a daily-wager. She has four brothers and is the only sister. Mohammad Raj is younger than her. The family hails from Bihar’s Bhagalpur and came to Delhi only a few years ago. They live on rent.
“They are very poor,” says a neighbour.
Her cousin lives two houses away.
Related reports by this correspondent:
Dhruv Tyagi murder: How ‘outsiders’ are making locals feel vulnerable in Moti Nagar
Fear of the Butcher’s Knife In New Delhi
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.