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Haryana: 22-year-old Muslim man beaten to death in Palwal, family alleges hate crime

A 22-year-old Muslim man was allegedly beaten to death by his three friends over stealing a mobile phone of one of them in Haryana’s Palwal on December 15, even as the victim’s family have accused it of being a communal hate crime, police said on Sunday, Hindustan Times reported.

The Palwal police had lodged a case of death due to accident soon after the incident was reported to them, but later added charges under section of murder after the post-mortem examination revealed serious injury marks, and after a video was uploaded on the social media that featured the three suspects beating the victim.

The Police has identified all the three suspects as Aakash alias Diljale, Vishal (who goes by single name), and Kalua. All of them are residents of Rasoolpur village in Palwal and have been arrested, police informed. They further added that all suspects have been remanded into judicial custody.

Station house officer (SHO) of Chand Hut police station in Palwal, Ram Chandar Jakhar, said on December 15, that they received information about a man, Rahul Khan, dying of an accident. “We registered a case under sections 279 (rash driving), and 304A (causing death by negligence) of Indian Penal Code. But, the post-mortem report revealed assault injuries, and the victim’s family approached us with a purported video of the incident. Following this, we converted it into a murder case, and started conducting raids to arrest suspects,” he said.

Jakhar said the police has also recovered the mobile phone on which the purported video of the incident was recorded. “Aakash had shot video and shared it on social media to prove that he was not involved in the case . He is apparently heard in the video, saying ‘Mat maro isko, jane do’(Don’t hit him, let him go). He thought it will help him escape the blame,” the SHO said.

Khan, a resident of Rasoolpur village, nearly 16 kilometres from the Palwal city, was a daily wage labourer, his family members said. His wife, Saina, said Khan had gone to attend a marriage function with three of his friends on December 14. “Kalua called us around 6pm that Rahul has met with an accident near Nangal Road canal. An unidentified vehicle hit him, and fled. He said they were taking him to a hospital and asked us to reach there,” she said.

Saina said, before succumbing to injuries in the hospital on December 15, Khan told her that five people, including Kalua, beat him with rods. She said they believed Kalua lodged a case of accident to conceal the crime. “On December 15, we received a video , in which Rahul can be seen pleading and being beaten mercilessly. The suspects were threatening him, and saying ‘Hum Hindu Hain Hindu, Tu Mulla Hai Mulla’ (We are Hindus, and you are a Muslim), she alleged.

SHO Jakhar said the police were yet to confirm it was a communal angle to the crime. “We are investigating the case and the mobile phone has also been seized. We will sent it to the (forensic) lab. If it was a hate crime, we will add charges under the relevant sections of the law,” he said.

Police said one of the suspects, Aakash, has told them that he had recorded the video, but did not assault Khan. “Kalua was agitated as Rahul had stolen his mobile phone, after drinking together at the wedding function. Kalua was enraged over this, and encouraged his friends to assault Rahul. They did not realise that he was severely injured and could die,” Jakhar said, quoting what Aakash said during the interrogation.

Razia, the sister of deceased, said that her father retired from Indian Railways in April this year and alleged that the suspects were pressuring Khan to give money to them from his father’s retirement funds. “They (the suspects) are drug addicts, and were demanding money from my brother. Last month, my brother gave them ₹2,000, but they were demanding ₹5,000 more,” she said.

The victim’s family claimed that Khan could never steal anything, and the suspects were making up the story in order to mislead the police.

Chhedi Khan, the father of the victim, said all the suspects were his son’s friends. “I moved to this village after my retirement. Was posted in Ballabhgarh. My son hardly worked. Despite my repeated attempts, he did not give up their company,” he said.

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