It’s been 16 days since Junaid Khan’s brothers have had a filling meal, but the streak finally ended on Saturday, said their father Jalaluddin Khan. With the arrest of the “main accused” on Saturday, there is some relief for the family. “My sons told me they will eat better tonight. I found out about the arrest at 8 pm when the village sarpanch called,” said Jalaluddin over the phone from his house in Khandawali, Ballabhgarh.
On June 22, Junaid was stabbed to death in a Mathura-bound train by a group of men who mocked his skull cap and called him a “beef eater”. He was on his way back home after Eid shopping in Delhi’s Sadar Bazar, along with his brother Hashim and friends Moin and Mohsin. With police having arrested the “main accused” from Maharashtra, Jalaluddin said he is “thankful to the government, administration and police — although it’s taken them more time than expected”.
On Wednesday night, 19-year-old Hashim was shown a sketch of the main accused by police officials. On Saturday, the man was arrested from Maharashtra. A sense of relief followed by skepticism gripped the neighbours once the news came out. “While we are hopeful that the guilty will be punished, it’s a pity that it took so long. This should have happened a week ago. It’s a long way to justice, let’s see what happens,” said Rafeeq Ahmed (48), a resident of Khandawali.
Another neighbour, Aslam, who runs a confectionery shop metres away from Junaid’s house, hoped that the punishment served to the accused would be a deterrent. “One needs to instil a kind of fear in those who dare to do something like this again, so we need to punish the accused as harshly as possible. We fill fight for Junaid till we are satisfied with the punishment,” he said.
Calling for a law against mob lynching, Jalaluddin said, “The punishment should be so harsh that no such incident happens again… so that there will be no other Junaid. There should be a law against mob lynching.” He added that his wife, Saira, was doing namaaz when he got the call from the village sarpanch informing him about the arrest: “Woh iss ki dua maang rahi thi.”