Over four months after Junaid Khan, 15, was killed by a mob on a Mathura-bound train, the sarpanch of his village in Khandawli said on Friday that they “tried to persuade his family” to agree to an “out-of-court settlement” with the accused so that the villages “can maintain peace and brotherhood”. But Junaid’s family refused.
Three weeks ago, some neighbouring villages held a panchayat at Khandawli, to discuss an out-of-court settlement between the families of the victim and the accused. All the six accused are residents of nearby villages like Khambi, Bhamraula and Palwal.
“The many sarpanches who came said the panchayat should come up with a solution… The accused can be asked to pay a heavy monetary fine. This way, the villages can maintain peace and brotherhood. We conveyed this to Junaid’s father, Jalaluddin,” Nishar Ahmed, the 40-year-old sarpanch of Khandawli, told The Indian Express.
Junaid’s family was asked to attend the panchayat, but they refused.
After the panchayat, Ahmed, accompanied by village elders and former Khandawli sarpanch Aiyaz Khan, tried to convince Junaid’s family to settle out of court.
“It would have been better if Jalaluddin had agreed to let the panchayat figure it out… We all live near each other, we do business in each other’s villages, travel there for work… Samaaj hi kar deta faisla, usko bhi aarthik madad mil jaati (The panchayat would have decided… they would also have received monetary aid),” said Khan, 62.
Jalaluddin maintained that they would “never settle”. “I can never forgive the men who killed my son and injured the other one so badly that he can’t even work. When the villagers approached us with the option of letting the panchayat settle the matter, we refused. We only have faith in the court,” he told The Indian Express.
“There is immense pressure on them to settle the case out of court… People don’t want to offend neighbouring villages, but they are ignoring the family’s pain of losing a son,” said a close associate of the family.
Ahmed, however, maintained: “We only have Jalaluddin’s best interest in mind. If the court convicts the accused, there are chances of growing enmity between surrounding villages, from where they (accused) hail, and ours… Dushmani badti hai, hum sirf shanti chahte hain (Enmity will grow, we only want peace).”
On Thursday, the Haryana government told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that Junaid’s family wanted a “compromise” and was seeking “two crore rupees and three acres of land” from the accused to settle the matter. Junaid’s family, however, rejected the government’s claim, saying it was a “rumour” and an “attempt to put pressure on us”. In the High Court too, the family counsel objected to the claim made by Additional Advocate General Deepak Sabharwal, representing the state.
“These are wild accusations against us. Why would we demand a CBI probe if we want to settle? I will fight this case till my last breath. I will not succumb to pressure or greed when it comes to my Junaid,” said his mother, Saira, today.