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Contradicting the Delhi Police stand that the attack on 35-year-old Abdul Malik by a group of seven men was random in nature, Malik’s colleague, who was also beaten up, has alleged that the accused hurled communal slurs at them and targeted them because they were wearing skull caps.
Malik, who worked at an embroidery unit, died on Tuesday after being assaulted at Netaji Subhash Place on March 2. He and his colleagues were on their way to a mosque when they were attacked. While the others managed to escape, Malik was severely beaten up with hockey sticks and left to die.
Police have so far arrested seven people, including five juveniles, in connection with the murder. Police have maintained that the accused were drunk, and were slapping people they ran into on the road.
However, a colleague who was with Malik at the time said the accused made “communally sensitive remarks”. Mohammad Shahzad, who was the first person to be attacked, said that while he was passing through the area, the group assaulted him and four others because they were “wearing skull caps”.
“I work with Abdul. On Holi, we all finished worked by 12:30 pm. Some of us were debating whether to attend the local namaz. Malik had decided he would go,” Shazad said.
As Shahzad led the group of four men, including Malik, the accused accosted him. “They said they will feed me pig meat. They started beating me; Malik was a few metres away. I managed to flee, but they caught hold of Malik and beat him,” Shahzad alleged.
A police officer at the RML Hospital’s mortuary, however, said eyewitnesses never made such claims earlier.
As Malik’s body was boarded into the hearse van, the general secretary from the Darul Nizamia masjid, Tasleem Khan, also alleged that Malik was attacked because he was wearing a skull cap.
“Three of the men (with Malik at the time) have not come forward… They might not want to be a part of the police investigation. We are appealing to them to come forward and cooperate with police,” Khan said.
When contacted, DCP (northwest) Aslam Khan denied the allegations and said, “The two eyewitnesses we have spoken to so far never made these claims in their statements. When they were asked about the assault, none of them made these claims.”
“We are going back to Madhubani. His two sons are waiting for us at our village. Malik was the sole breadwinner. He was going to marry off his cousin sister in the coming months,” said Abdul Khaled, Malik’s cousin.