Two days after the video of a vegetable seller being assaulted by a man surfaced online, Delhi Police have tracked down the accused and arrested him. The accused, Praveen Babbar, is a resident of southeast Delhi’s Badarpur Extension and runs a tour and travel business.
In the video, Babbar can purportedly be seen hitting the vegetable seller, Mohd Saleem, with a stick. After that, he asks for his ID, starts hitting and abusing him. “Tum logo ne jihad macha diya hai,” he can be heard saying.
DCP (southeast) RP Meena said a case has been registered at Badarpur police station under various IPC sections.
The elder brother of the 21-year-old victim told The Indian Express that the incident took place on April 10 afternoon. “My brother came back home crying, scared and with a swollen arm. He told us a man with a stick had asked vegetable vendors to leave. He said that as soon as the man found his name, he hit him with a stick and his accomplice started making a video,” said Mohd Dilshad, 23, a daily wager.
The victim told The Indian Express that since the day of the incident, he has not left his home to sell vegetables. “He is scared, we all are,” said his brother.
It was six months ago that the two brothers and their four younger siblings moved to Delhi from UP’s Bareilly in search of work. “Our mother passed away and our father is in Bareilly. We rented a cart and procured vegetables to sell, worked as daily wage labourers too, and then the lockdown was announced. We couldn’t return home and are dependent on the vegetable cart as our source of income,” said Dilshad.
The siblings said the landlord has waived the rent for now but buying ratio is a problem. “We are scared, we just want to go back home now. We don’t want to live in Delhi. We are hungry and we are being beaten,” Dilshad said.
Police tracked down Babbar after it received a message on Twitter from the Cyber Cell. Meena said, “A motorcycle can be seen in the video and the number plate is visible. It was traced to a resident of Molarband called Sudhanshu. He said the incident took place at Tajpur Road in Badarpur Extension and helped identify the accused as Babbar.”
Sudhanshu signed up as a COVID-19 volunteer with the Delhi Police a few days ago, and has been allotted a lane in the area to keep an eye on. He told The Indian Express, “I was on my way somewhere when I saw this. It made me feel bad and I wanted to intervene, but the accused was so angry and had a stick. I wasn’t sure what he was capable of doing. My bike’s number plate helped police track me down, and I told them the exact location, but I don’t know the victim or the accused. I asked around and was told this was Babbar.”
The accused was tracked down on Sunday, and so was the victim.
Meena said that the victim was traced with the help of local intelligence. A police officer said, “It was assumed that the vegetable seller lived near the locality, so we found him by speaking to our local sources.”
Meena said that during the inquiry, Babbar said that “on the day of the incident, there were 10 vegetable sellers and their carts at the site and he asked the seller to move from there as a lockdown had been enforced”. Meena said that Babbar claimed Saleem didn’t move, which angered him.