Salman Used To Play Cricket With Rahul’s Brother. In Delhi Riots, He Was Part Of The Group That Killed Rahul
Salman, one of the seven Muslim men chargesheeted for the murder, told the police he did it “to save Islam”
Rahul Solanki was a 26-year-old youth living in Babu Nagar colony of Muslim-dominated Mustafabad, located on northeast Delhi’s Karawal Nagar Road. A diploma holder in civil engineering, Rahul was working in the marketing firm of a company in Okhla.
On the evening of 24 February, when parts of northeast district had already been burning in communal violence for more than 24 hours, Rahul was shot from a 25-metre range by rioters. He was standing near Pal dairy street adjoining Rajdhani school and watching the violence spread to his area. His family says he had left to buy grocery half-an-hour earlier.
The police have charged seven Muslim men for his murder based on CCTV footage, witness statements and call records.
One of the accused, Salman, told the police that he knew Rahul very well as Rahul’s brother Rohit used to play cricket with his group. Rohit is an undergraduate student of law.
Salman’s statement, recorded in the chargesheet, says he joined the rioters “to save Islam”.
Salman is 20. As per his statement, he quit studies after Class 12 as he never enjoyed it. He learnt how to repair mobile phones and set up a small shop. It did not do well so he closed it down.
As he looked for work, he began to frequent mosques and, slowly, turned religious.
During the protests against CAA-NRC, people in mosques would tell visitors to be ready for an eventual fight, and to stock pistols rods, petrol bombs, stones, lathi, rods and other weapons.
His statement says that around 10.30 am on 24 February, he visited an Idgah in Sadar Bazaar where Maulana Saad of Nizamuddin Markaz was presiding over prayers. By 12 30 pm, the attendees began to receive phone calls that riots have broken out in Bhajanpura and Chand Bagh, and everyone should reach their respective places to join the crowds.
Around 4 pm when he reached Mustafabad, people told him that Muslims were gathering at Shiv Vihar tiraha to kill and loot Hindus. When he reached the tiraha, he found two mobs face to face – one Hindu and one Muslim. Some men from his side were firing at Hindus.
“I also joined the mob to save Islam, while chanting Naara-E-Takbeer, Allahu Akbar and ‘kill kaafirs’,” the statement says.
Salman sent a friend to get a pistol and wore a helmet on advice of fellow rioters. Once he got the weapon, he began to fire in the direction of the Hindus and stopped only when it emptied.
The statement says that Salman saw a man wearing a blue T-shirt shooting down a man outside Pal dairy street, who he later learnt was Rahul Solanki. He knew Rahul well.
Salman returned to his house shortly later. In the night, Muslims learnt that Hindus were mobilising in order to avenge Hindu killings. That very night, Salman, Bablu and Haji Rahim Ilahi made a slingshot using spare parts from the cycle-repair shop of Haji Saleem.
Salman’s statement says that Ilahi has contested local municipal polls on Samajwadi Party ticket in the past and is currently an Aam Aadmi Party leader,
After doing all this, Salman fled to his sister’s house in Ghaziabad‘s Loni area, the statement concludes.
The site of the riots is near Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border. Ghaziabad falls in Uttar Pradesh.
The statement by another accused, 28-year-old Arif, says that he would often join the sit-in protest against CAA-NRC outside Farooquia mosque, where speakers would tell the crowds that the Narendra Modi government is conspiring to drive out Muslims from India and Muslims must be ready for an “aar paar ki ladai”.
It is pertinent to mention that Farooquia mosque was burnt by a Hindu crowd the next day.
Arif‘s statement says he quit school after Class 9 and has been jobless for quite some time.
On 24 February, when he was returning from prayers at an Idgah, he received messages on Whatsapp that “Muslims were performing well at Brijpuri, Bhajanpura and Chand Bagh”.
Arif too picked up an iron rod and rushed to Shiv Vihar tiraha. He found a large Muslim mob already in action. “Everyone decided that all the kaafirs living in the area must be killed, looted and burnt,” the statement says.
It was Arif who spotted a CCTV camera at the corner of Pal dairy street. He tried to break it but wasn’t successful, so he left the camera dangling as it came unstuck.
Other accused, including 37-year-old Sirajuddin, 20-year-old Furkan, 30-year-old Sonu Saifi, 48-year-old Anish Qureshi and 29-year-old Irshad, too told the police that they learnt about “Modi’s conspiracy to drive out Muslims” at Farooquia mosque.
“We were ready to do anything to save Islam,” says the statement by Furkan.
“When I saw a mob near Rajdhani school and began to head towards home, Muslims asked me why was I running like an impotent when it was time to show the Muslim,” says the statement by Irshad.
“The Muslims Near Rajdhani school urged me to teach a lesson to kaafirs,” says the statement by Anish.
The police have not been able to reach the man who actually shot at Rahul - the one that most of the accused have identified as wearing a blue T-shirt. Hunt for 14 other men named by the seven accused, including Haji Rahim Ilahi and Bablu as mentioned above, is still on.
The seven accused have been charged, besides murder, with rioting, hurting religious sentiments, theft and possessing illegal arms.
For this, the police have cited a Supreme Court order in ‘Lalji and Ors Vs State of UP’ case, which says that there is need to prove an overt act by every member of an unlawful assembly.
The first information report (FIR) in Rahul’s murder (75/2010 at Dayalpur police station) was filed four days later on 28 February even though the police made a daily diary entry of his death the same day.
As per the statement of Rahul’s father Hari Singh to the police, Rahul left home around 5.30 on on 24 February to buy grocery. Two hours earlier, Hari Singh had spotted large crowds on the road and informed the police about it by dialling 100.
Around 6 pm, a woman rushed to his house to inform him that his son had been wounded and lying on the road.
A shocked Hari Singh reached the spot, but learnt that his other son Rohit and nephew Anil had already picked him up. Hari Singh went to one Luv-Kush nursing home nearby, but found out that Rohit and Anil were taking Rahul to Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB), which is a state-run hospital in Delhi.
Rohit and Anil had first gone to one Shanti Hospital at Shiv Vihar, but it was closed. They went to Luv-Kush nursing home on Karawal Nagar Road, but the doctor asked them to go to GTB.
All roads to GTB were blocked. The brothers took Rahul to a primary health centre in Uttar Pradesh’s Loni where, again, doctors referred him to GTB.
The health centre somehow arranged for their transport to GTB and sent a constable named Avneet to accompany them.
At GTB, Rahul was declared brought dead.
The police were informed around 11 pm. Hari Singh told the police that most of the rioters were local Muslim residents.
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