After eight-and-a-half years, justice caught up with Mohammad Kuddus and Mohammad Eklakh. But it did little to mitigate the sorrow of Mohammed Haddis, whose eight-year-old son, Harun Rashid, had been kidnapped and strangled by the duo.
In 1994, angry with Haddis for recommending Eklakh’s dismissal from a factory, Kuddus and Eklakh had picked up Harun and strangled him to death. On Thursday, the city civil and sessions court convicted the two and sentenced them to life imprisonment. It had taken the police eight years to gather enough evidence to nail the killers in a court of law.
The tragedy struck on August 13, 1994, while Harun was returning to his Bright Street home from school in the afternoon. Eklakh knew him well. He was a frequent visitor to the factory, where he went to visit Harun’s father, who was the manager. When Eklakh asked Harun to accompany him, the boy did not hesitate. He boarded the taxi with the two as he had been promised a “good time”.
Their first stop was the Kuddus home on Aga Mehendi Street, in Park Circus. While the boy played around in the house, the two planned how to kill him. They decided they would first gag him and then strangle him. But since the Kuddus home was in a congested locality, they did not want to take a chance there.
So, they moved to Eklakh’s house, in nearby Deodhar Bux Lane. Being a bit more secluded, they decided to carry out the crime there. After gagging Harun, they strangled him. They then put his body into a tin trunk, along with his school bag and his books. Another taxi was taken, this time to Howrah station. The men boarded the Kathgodam Express, pushed the trunk under a bunk and slipped away.
When Harun failed to return home, his father lodged a complaint with the Park Street police station, but a search proved futile. The day after the kidnap, Haddis received a ransom call for Rs 25,000. He went to the designated spot in Picnic Gardens with the money, but no one showed up.
On August 16, passengers on the Kathgodam Express, getting a stench from the trunk, called in the railway police at Bareilly. On opening the trunk, the boy’s body was found, with his satchel and books bearing his name.
Haddis named Eklakh as a suspect and police finally picked him up from his home in Bihar’s Chhapra district.