Anwari Khatoon is sitting on a wooden cot with two other women at her pucca house in Hasanpura in Siwan’s M H Nagar. Her face covered partially, she said her husband Nasib Quraishi (56) was hale and hearty when he left home for Chhapra early morning on March 7. Later that evening, she received the news of his death. He had allegedly been lynched at Rasulpur, Saran, barely 18 km from Hasanpura.
Mother of six daughters and a son, Anwari demanded the death sentence for the accused, compensation for the family and a job for her youngest daughter.
Nasib — who bought and sold goats, and diseased, old animals for a living — and his nephew Firoz Quraishi had ridden his trusty TVS Luna to Tole Bansi Chhapra village of Asahni panchayat on March 7. Accompanying the two men was a bag. They were stopped by some villagers who suspected them of carrying “banned meat” in that very bag. While Firoz managed to flee the spot, Nasib was allegedly assaulted and handed over to Rasulpur police around 9.45 am.
Some videos of the incident, shot by the residents of Tole Bansi Chhapra village, allegedly showed Nasib donning a red gamcha and riding his bike to Rasulpur police station, about 4 km from the site of the alleged assault. The Rasulpur police got a doctor to administer first aid to Nasib, who did not insist on filing a case. In fact, he gave the police a signed statement saying that he would be able to go home on his bike.
CCTV footage from a toll plaza along the Chhapra-Siwan Road, barely 1.5 km from the Rasulpur police station, showed a person resembling Nasib crossing it around 11 am. After this toll plaza comes the Daraunda police station of Siwan.
It is at this stage that things start to become unclear in the case. Though his bike is now parked at Daraunda police station, neither the Rasulpur police nor the Daraunda police know what happened to Nasib after he crossed the toll plaza. A Daraunda station officer said a patrol party had spotted the bike lying on the road and brought it to the station. However, there is still no confirmation on who sent Nasib to Sadar Hospital in Siwan.
Firoz, who is the complainant in the case, told The Sunday Express: “As soon as we were stopped that day, fearing for my life, I fled the spot. While I have no idea what happened to my uncle after that, I recognised some people who had stopped us before I fled.”
Stating that the family had reached Sadar Hospital in Siwan around 5 pm that day, he added, “The doctors in Siwan recommended that we take him to Patna Medical College. We had barely crossed Siwan town when he died.”
Nasib’s agitated family members brought his body to Hasanpura, where they held a meeting with the community and then decided to go to the Rasulpur police station.
“We reached the Rasulpur police station with the body around 11 pm. I identified Asahni panchayat sarpanch Sushil Singh, Asahni Ward Number 10 member Ujjawal Sharma and two other villagers, Ravi Sah and Abhishek Sharma, as the persons who had stopped our bike that day,” said Firoz, adding that he had named a juvenile as an accused as well.
The Rasulpur police lodged a murder case against these accused and over two dozen unknown people. Nasib’s body was sent for post-mortem to the Sadar Hospital in Chhapra. The post-mortem report is awaited.
Saran Superintendent of Police Gaurav Mangla said: “We took prompt action and arrested three of the accused on March 8. Raids are on to arrest the two other accused as well.”
The minor is absconding, as is Abhishek.
Even as they await the post-mortem report, the Rasulpur police have deployed forces at Tole Bansi Chhapra to avert any communal incidents.
At Hasanpura, Nasib’s widow said, “My husband had been visiting these villages in Siwan and Chhapra for work for years. We suspect that he died because he was beaten. He had no medical history of illness.”
Five of Anwari’s six daughters and son are married. Her son Naushad is a daily-wage labourer. The youngest among her siblings, Roshni, has just passed Class 12. Nasib had used his savings to construct their pucca house years ago in Quraishi Mohalla of Hasanpura.
Firoz said, “The police have been delaying arresting the two other accused. This incident is part of some deep-rooted conspiracy. We had always travelled freely through the areas where the incident took place. We want justice and compensation for the family, and death sentence for the accused.”
Suresh Singh, retired Army personnel and father of main accused Sushil Singh, said, “My son is a two-time sarpanch. Neither my son, nor the others named as accused have any cases against them. In fact, my son did his duty as a sarpanch by handing over Nasib to the police. I want to know how a man can still ride a bike after being beaten up so badly? We will present our evidence, including several videos and CCTV footage, in our favour. The police seem to be working under pressure.”
The Rasulpur police confirmed that none of the accused have criminal antecedents.
A delegation of the Saran district sarpanch association met Mangla on Friday. Assuring fair investigation, Mangla said: “Whatever the villagers say may be partially true. But it is also true that Nasib is dead and his death is being investigated.”