Indian Express

Murdered Bihar teacher was popular, taught both Hindus, Muslims for free

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R K Singh speaks with Zulfiqar Khan, uncle of Akbar Khan, on Saturday at the family’s home in Piro in Bihar. ravi s sahani R K Singh speaks with Zulfiqar Khan, uncle of Akbar Khan, on Saturday at the family’s home in Piro in Bihar. ravi s sahani

Twenty-four hours after a young Muslim teacher was shot dead in Piro town of Bihar’s Bhojpur district, the police had made no breakthrough, and election-season politics hung darkly over the case.

The family and relatives of 28-year-old Mohammed Akbar Khan said he had no enemies. He was a popular man with significant goodwill, who taught a large number of students — many, both Muslim and Hindu, for free.

There was tension in Piro soon after Khan was shot dead in his office around 8.30 pm on Friday, and some half a dozen shops were looted and torched. Police faced protests in their attempt to take the body away for an autopsy, and extra forces were deployed in the town. On Saturday, Khan’s family said they did not know the protesters.

The first politician to show up at Khan’s home in Piro’s Milky village was R K Singh, the former union home secretary who is now the BJP candidate for the Ara Lok Sabha seat. He told a large crowd of Muslims in the village on Saturday that “some people” were out to create trouble, but they must “exercise restraint and maintain peace”.

Singh assured the family that the “samaj ke dushman” (enemies of society) who had killed Khan would have to pay for their crime. As he left, he held the hands of Khan’s distraught uncle Zulfiqar Khan and promised, “We will follow this up.”

Singh, who joined politics recently and is still not widely recognised in the area, was identified by local residents as a “man from Modi’s party”. A Muslim youth who lives close to Khan’s home said, “(Narendra) Modi ke partywale neta the… sabse pehle wahi aaye. (That was a leader from Modi’s party; he was the first to show up.)”

Singh told The Sunday Express, “I came to know how popular he (Khan) was because of his profession. Yeh samaj ke dushman ka kiya hua hai. Jin logon ne tod-phod ki hai woh bhi samaj ke dushman hain. Woh jhagda karwana chahte hain. (Those who killed him are enemies of society, as are those who indulged in the looting afterward. They want people to fight.)”

Akbar Khan, the eldest of six brothers and the principal breadwinner for his family, ran a popular coaching institute, Marshal Coaching Centre, less than a kilometre from his home. The coaching centre provided tuitions to some 900 students from Classes 5 to 12.

On Friday evening, Khan had given a test to a batch of Class 12 students, and was arranging the papers before winding up for the day when two men entered his office, one of whom shot him in the chest. Khan managed to get up from his continued…

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