‘If Nikita Is Indeed India’s Daughter, Join Me In Legal Fight. I Can’t Do It Alone’. Broke And Jobless, Slain Nikita Tomar’s Father Turns To Community
Two months after Nikita Tomar’s murder by her former schoolmate Tausif, her father Moolchand Tomar tells community groups he cannot pursue legal fight for her justice by himself.
From a distance, the Nikita Tomar murder case of Faridabad seems like an open-and-shut case.
A viral video clearly showed the key accused Mohammed Tausif shooting Nikita in point blank range. Yet, fighting the murder case against Tausif legally in court is proving to be an onerous task for Nikita’s family.
Nikita’s father Moolchand Tomar recently turned to local social organisations requesting for support. He told the organisation heads that he was on the verge of giving up the legal fight as he just could not do it all alone.
Two weeks ago, Tomar lost his job for taking too many offs for court hearings.
These correspondents received a call from Tomar on 2 January, requesting to attend a meeting of representatives of several local social groups the next day. Tomar said he had invited all journalists who met him after the murder, and whose number he had saved in his phone.
Few mediapersons, however, turned up at the venue. Not many organisations participated either, perhaps because it had rained all day. Among those who participated were Virendra Gaud, who heads a Faridabad-based social organisation named Yuva Sewa Sangathan, and Brij Bhushan Saini, who heads another Faridabad-based social organisation named Dev Sena that works primarily for Hindus.
At the meeting, Tomar told the gathering that he had lost his job as an electrician in a private Noida-based company, where he had been working for many years. “Every other day, I was called at the police station to verify this or that. Then there are constant court hearings. For some weeks, my employer did not say anything, but eventually asked me to leave,” Tomar said.
Nikita, 21, was shot outside her college gate on 26 October 2019. You can read Swarajya’s report on the case here.
A final-year student of Bachelors in Commerce (Honors) at Faridabad’s Aggarwal College, Nikita was coming out from the Milk Plant campus of the college after writing an examination. Her mother and brother had been waiting for her at a relative’s house nearby.
The key accused, Tausif, is a former schoolmate of Nikita who had been pressuring her to marry him since school. Footage from a CCTV camera showed Tausif coming out from a car and shooting Nikita, before being driven away by a man later identified as his friend Rehan.
As per Nikita’s family, Tausif killed Nikita for refusing to convert to Islam and marry him.
Two years ago, Nikita’s family had filed a first information report (FIR) against Tausif for kidnapping Nikita. However, the family later gave an affidavit in court that there had been a misunderstanding. Tomar now says he was under duress as the case was not progressing despite he following due procedure including getting Nikita’s statement recorded before the magistrate, and he was told he is too weak to take on heavyweights like Tausif’s family.
Tausif comes from a family of influential political leaders associated with the Congress party.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the Faridabad police filed the chargesheet in Nikita’s murder in a district court within “a record” 11 days, charging Tausif and Rehan under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 366 (kidnapping or inducing woman to compel her marriage), and 364 (abducting in order to murder) as well as the Arms Act. The chargesheet featured 60 witnesses.
Tomar told the gathering he had no idea that proving the charges was going to be so challenging. “I am told that everything hangs on the testimony of witnesses and they can be bought with money. The other party [Tausif’s side] is powerful and has hired some of the most expensive lawyers,” said Tomar.
“I am also told that even if he gets convicted by the district court, he can go to the high court. How am I going to continue the fight? I have already exhausted all my resources,” he said.
Tomar said that two months into the court case, he has realised that the legal system works in far more complicated ways than he had assumed and the process is way costlier than he had imagined. “We need a lawyer at every step. Every trip to the court needs money. I don’t want to take any names but even policemen ask for money for doing their job,” he said.
Tomar said that after he lost his job, he just could not carry on further all by himself. “After my daughter’s murder, many political leaders and social activists visited me. They said Nikita is India’s daughter. If Nikita is indeed India’s daughter, then the fight for justice too should be a collective effort,” he said.
“Honestly, I am stretched to the limits.”
Tomar, a Rajput by caste, hails from Pilukhuwa in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district. He shifted to Haryana about 30 years ago for better work prospects. All this time, he lived on rent. It was only a few years ago that he brought one floor of a house in a residential society in Faridabad. Tomar now lives with his wife and a son who is older than Nikita.
Tomar said he exhausted all his life’s earnings in getting his children educated in good schools and colleges and then in buying the house. Nikita was a bright student. She wanted to join the defence forces. Tomar had big aspirations for her career. Her marriage was not part of the family’s plans any time soon.
In the meeting, the participants collectively decided to form an informal committee of prominent social activists for taking the legal battle forward. They decided that they needed to raise funds on priority. For that, they would visit every political leader and activist who made promises to Tomar just after the murder.
“Many representatives of the government came and made many promises. Some said they would get Nikita’s brother a job, some said they would get the state government give monetary relief, others said they would name an under-construction college in the city after Nikita. Two months later, nothing has been done,” said Virendra Gaud.
The activist said that it is being repeatedly observed that the government gives prompt monetary relief to victims belonging to Muslim community, but does not extend the gesture to Hindus, especially “savarnas” (non-Dalits).
To make his point, Gaud cited the 2015 case where two Dalit children were allegedly burnt to death by members of an upper caste community in Sunperh village of Faridabad, and the 2017 case where a 16-year-old Muslim boy Junaid was allegedly killed by some fellow passengers belonging to Hindu religion over a seat-related dispute in a train.
“In both cases, prominent opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi visited the families. The Khattar government gave the families jobs and compensation. How is it that the state government is able to help those victim families immediately but not families like Nikita’s? Why are savarna Hindus repeatedly ignored?” he said.
Brij Bhushan Saini said that Hindus in general are ignored by various state governments. He cited the 2015 case in Uttar Pradesh where a Muslim man named Mohammed Akhlaq was allegedly beaten up by a crowd of Hindus for slaughtering a cow. The then Akhilesh Yadav government gave the family four flats in Greater Noida and about Rs 45 lakh.
Since 3 January, the informal committee has met twice again, and the number of participants has swelled. These correspondents have attended both the meetings, where representatives of about 25 local Hindu and Sikh outfits participated. Most outfits primarily work for specific caste interests such as Yadavs, Brahmins and Jats.
On 9 January, the group went to the office of Krishan Pal Gujjar, who is Minister of State for Social Justice and also Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha from Faridabad constituency.
They handed Gujjar a list of demands — a job for Nikita’s brother, compensation of Rs 1 crore to the aggrieved family, naming an under-construction government college in Sector 2 of Faridabad after Nikita, investigation of dubious police role in the 2018 kidnapping of Nikita, naming of a street after Nikita and, lastly, withdrawal of police cases against 32 youths who allegedly indulged in vandalism and violence during an agitation staged in the first week of November against Nikita’s murder.
“This visit [to the MP’s office] is the first step. We are going through all the videos to check promises made by various leaders and activists. We will knock at every door and ask — why did you forget your promise to Nikita’s family?” said Gaud.
The group has also taken some steps to strengthen the fight such as making public the bank account details of Tomar and setting up a Twitter account for Moolchand Tomar (@MoolchandTomar8).
“I am learning to use Twitter. Some youths are helping me. They also quickly designed messages for easy circulation on WhatsApp,” said Tomar, who dropped out of school to earn and support his family after untimely death of his father. Moolchand Tomar is the eldest of his four siblings.
“Nikita was quite savvy in these matters. She would show me Facebook and Twitter, and urge me to join them. I always told her that one day, when I have more time, I will,” said Tomar.
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