A teenage student from Arunachal Pradesh died in the city on Thursday, on the morning after he was beaten by a group of men led by the owner of a paneer shop in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar market.
The student was allegedly assaulted after he protested against the shopkeeper’s taunts about his physical appearance. Friends of 19-year-old Nido Taniam last saw him alive at 6 am on Thursday after he had spent a sleepless night, agitated about the previous evening’s incident, and complaining of uneasiness and pain in the chest. The friends assumed he had drifted to sleep after that, but got worried around noon, when they took him to AIIMS. He was declared dead at the hospital. Friends and relatives said Nido, a B.Sc student at Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, had come to Delhi some days ago. Nido was the son of Nido Pavitra, a Congress MLA and parliamentary secretary in the health and family welfare department of the government of Arunachal Pradesh.
On Wednesday afternoon, Nido was in Lajpat Nagar market with a friend. They stopped at Rajasthan Paneer Bhandar in A block to ask for directions. The victim’s friends have alleged that in response, the shopkeeper passed a rude comment about his clothes and the colour of his hair, called him “chinki”, and laughed at him along with some other people at the shop. This allegedly provoked Nido to bang his fist on the shop counter, which shattered the glass and triggered a scuffle between him and the shopkeeper.
According to Nightham Apam, one of Nido’s friends, the shopkeeper and six other men threw chilli powder in Nido’s eyes and beat him. “Nido was beaten with a wooden stick. They also slapped him several times across his face. The shopkeeper called the PCR, and the local police too reached the spot. Both parties were taken to the police station, where police brokered a settlement, and made Nido and his friend shell out Rs 10,000 to pay for the damage at the shop,” Nightham said.
The matter, however, did not end here. According to Nightham, a few hours later, men from the shop cornered Nido at the end of a narrow road and beat him again. Police said Nido complained to them after the second incident, and both parties were taken to the police station again. They were made to submit written apologies before being let off.
Nido then went to the Green Park Extension home of a relative where he was staying. Friends and relatives who were present at the AIIMS mortuary on Friday afternoon alleged that he died after suffering internal injuries during the beating. “His friends have told me that he slept around 6 am after complaining of uneasiness. They advised him to go to the hospital but he refused, saying he would rather rest at home. When he did not wake up until noon, his friends got worried and took him to hospital where he was declared dead,” Nido’s uncle Apil said.
Apil said doctors at AIIMS had told him that “there was water in his lungs”. “We have filed a complaint saying this was murder. Nido was beaten but police made him pay money to the shopkeepers. Why was no case registered?” said Nightham. On Friday evening, police detained the two owners of the shop, Farhan and Akram, and recovered chilli powder and a stick from the shop. They also registered a case of murder at the Lajpat Nagar police station. “We are interrogating the suspects. The investigation is on,” the special commissioner of police (Law and Order) said.
Nido was the youngest son of his parents. An autopsy was conducted at AIIMS on Friday. The body would be flown to Arunachal Pradesh early on Saturday morning, friends of Nido said. MLA Nido Pavitra told The Indian Express over the phone that his son had spoken to him on Wednesday night and told him about the incident. “I used to talk to my son almost every day. On Wednesday, he told me he was beaten, but said he was fine. He said that he had informed the police about the incident. I have lost my son but now I want justice for him. The last time I saw him was during the New Year. My government in Arunachal Pradesh is in touch with the Delhi Police. I will perform the final rites of my son and then come to the capital after 10-15 days,” he said.