An eyewitness to the murder of his two brothers was shot dead in the city’s Khatauli area Monday evening. The victim, Asbab, was delivering milk to a shop when two armed assailants on a bike shot him multiple times.
The incident took place a few metres from Khatauli police station, where an FIR under Section 302 (murder) has been registered against unknown persons. “We received information of a shooting near Agarwal Dairy in Khatauli, where Asbab had come to deliver milk. He lived a couple of kilometres away in Islamnagar with his family,” said Sudhir Kumar Singh, SSP Muzaffarnagar.
Asbab’s brothers, Nawab and Shahid, were killed in a neighbouring village during the violence that swept the region in September 2013. While an FIR was filed at the Mansurpur police station against unknown persons, on February 25 this year, Asbab confirmed the names of six accused in connection with the murders, while recording a statement before a magistrate in the Muzaffarnagar district court. The next hearing in court was due later this month.
While Khatauli SHO Harasaran Sharma said the murders of Nawab and Shahid were not connected to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, a senior government official said Asbab’s family was indirectly affected.
“Several cases of isolated crimes were reported in the district including murders, that were indirectly affected by the riot-like situation. Almost 15-20 such cases are pending in the district court. They were part of a silent war occurring in pockets. The police revisited many such cases to solve them in fresh light. Asbab’s brothers’ case was one,” said the official.
According to Jitendra Tyagi, the government counsel, his family had not sought protection. “Due to the vacation of the court after announcing the quantum of punishment for the seven accused of allegedly causing the riots, the trial, in this case, had not begun. Asbab had given a preliminary statement in which he named six people from Mathedi village,” he said.
Asbab’s family alleged the accused had threatened him after he named them. “They are influential people and had come to our house, claiming that they will have their ‘own sense of justice’. We were scared but we had to pursue the case. And he was killed only few days later. We left our own village, Khedi, since things were never the same after the violence. The accused took two brothers away from us. And now my husband. We are shattered,” said Meena, Asbab’s wife.
Meena has now sought protection for her three sons. “Two police officers have been sitting outside our house. They should have come the day he went to court. We have three sons between the ages of three and 10. I fear the men will come for them too,” she said.
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