Updated: October 3, 2021 1:50:21 pm
A 24-year-old youth, whose body was found on the railway tracks in Belagavi on September 28, is now suspected to have been murdered over an inter-faith relationship.
Though Arbaz Aftab Mullah’s body was found in a mutilated state, the investigations, including a post-mortem procedure, have revealed it to be a case of murder, police sources said, adding that they are looking closely at a relationship that the victim had with a Hindu girl over the last couple of years.
Arbaz’s mother Najeema Shaikh, 46, has said in a police complaint that she suspects the father of the girl, with whom her son was involved, and a few persons associated with a radical right-wing group of murdering her son.
Arbaz, a resident of Azam Nagar in Belagavi, was a civil engineering graduate who worked as a car dealer in Belagavi city. After his body was found on September 28, the railway police initially registered a case of unnatural death, but the post-mortem revealed stab injuries on the head, indicating that Arbaz was murdered.
The Superintendent of Police (Railways) Siri Gowri said, “After the victim’s mother filed a complaint, we registered a case under IPC 302 (murder). The case will be transferred to the Belagavi district police for further probe since the death was not as a result of the victim being hit by a train.”
A senior officer with the Belagavi district police said that while the case was yet to be officially handed over to them, they had already gathered information and some leads to indicate that Arbaz’s relationship with a Hindu girl had led to the murder.
“All the accused have been identified. Efforts are on to find out the exact sequence of events. The relationship was an issue and there were a lot of negotiations over it between the two sides,” a police source said, adding that they suspect the involvement of persons with links to right-wing extremist outfits.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Arbaz Mullah’s mother Najeema Shaikh, a government school teacher, said she was aware that her son was in a relationship with a Hindu girl that had gone on for over two years. “Our family and the girl’s family were aware of the relationship. We were living in Khanapur (a taluk in Belagavi)… I spoke to the girl’s mother then to stop her from meeting Arbaz and I told Arbaz the same too. However, we were being threatened by their family, so we recently relocated to Belagavi city,” she said.
Najeema lost her husband three years ago. Her daughter, an aeronautical engineer, lives in London.
Two days before her son went missing, Najeema says she and Arbaz met two Hindu activists, one of whom went by the name ‘Maharaj’.
“We were threatened with dire consequences and they told us to come near Khanapur to settle the matter,” she said. “On September 26, Arbaz and I went there and, in their presence, Arbaz deleted all the photos of his girlfriend on his phone. They also took some money from us. They told me that there were at least a thousand people ready to lynch Arbaz and me. I requested them to allow us to lead a peaceful life and we left from there. Arbaz disposed of his old SIM card and took a new one too,” Najeema said.
On September 28, Najeema said she was in Goa for some work related to her passport. Arbaz, she says, was home till at least 5 pm. “He called me on my phone and asked me when I would be reaching home. I told him that I would reach by 7 pm. Since I was worried for him, I told him to stay inside the house. When I returned, he was not home. We got to know that Arbaz was no more when police called the next day,” she added.
In her complaint, Najeema has named ‘Maharaj’, another right-wing activist, who identified himself to her as ‘Birje’, and the father of the girl with whom Arbaz was in a relationship.
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