Relatives try in vain to console Saurabh’s mother Pinki Devi (centre), Baniahir, Dhanbad, on Sunday. Pictures by Gautam Dey
Baniahir in Jharia — the home of 13-year-old Saurabh Sharma and his neighbour-turned-killer Sohail Khan (18) — was an emotional roller coaster on Sunday.
More than 1,000 people — from angry neighbours to agonised family members — blocked the Jharia-Sindri Road for two hours from 11am, demanding eviction of family members of De Nobili student Sohail who masterminded the kidnap and death by strangulation of the Class VII student of DAV Centenary Public School for Rs 20 lakh.
The angry protesters also sought cuffs for the remaining three members of the Khan family — Sohail’s parents and elder brother Munna — for “raising a killer”.
Saurabh’s father Surendra Sharma, a BCCL employee who also runs a tent house business in Jharia, said the truth was so ugly that he was yet to come to terms with it.
“My son always used to call him (Sohail) bhaiya and we never objected to their friendship. They have been out together in the past. We never suspected foul play,” the bereaved father said, his eyes moist and his voice choked.
On a sterner note, he added: “He (Sohail) should be given exemplary punishment so that no one dares to repeat what he did to my son.”
Mother Pinki Devi fainted twice and was barely able to speak a word. Her younger son — 11-year-old Shubham, a Class VI student of DAV — was jittery and avoided strangers.
Local resident Prem Bachchan Das was vocal. He went ballistic against families of Sohail and his two young accomplices — Jealgora resident Pradip Singh (20) and his cousin Ajit Singh (19). “The society should boycott parents of such wayward youths so that others learn a lesson,” Das, who runs a tea stall in Baniahir, said.
He added that Saurabh too was a victim of bad habits. “The boy was 13 and he rode a bike — and that too he was guilty of speeding. Many of us had warned his father. Poor man, he perhaps never dreamt that fate would be so cruel to his elder son,” Das said.
A teacher of DAV, requesting anonymity, conceded that Saurabh bunked classes and was often spotted in the company of senior students of other schools outside campus.
Dhanbad SP Ravi Kant Dhan, who reached Baniahir early in the afternoon and quelled the protest by assuring residents of speedy justice, blamed poor upbringing for crime as heinous as murder.
“Parents need to pay more attention to moral education of their children instead of just academic qualifications. Textbook knowledge does not help you fight the lure of money. A few quick bucks can turn youths into delinquents,” Dhan said.
He further advised parents to keep an eye on their children’s friend circles. “Bad company is known to spoil a child’s future and career,” he pointed out.
Sunday’s two-hour protest was actively supported by a host of local politicians and leaders, including Jharia MLA Kunti Singh, deputy mayor Niraj Singh, Youth Congress leader Santosh Singh and Bajrang Dal leader Umashankar Tiwari.
They also offered their condolences to the bereaved family. Niraj Singh even supported the demand to evict the family of the main accused.
Appealing to residents to maintain calm, SP Dhan said that instead of reacting violently to the incident, they should take a lesson and be more vigilant about their children’s safety in the future.
Should family members of the accused be evicted?