A minor also took part in the torture of a specially-abled Muslim youth who was tied to an electricity pole with saffron cloth and beaten to death in the capital on Tuesday morning, Delhi police said on Thursday.
A police officer said there was no “communal angle” to the lynching but the relatives of the 26-year-old victim, Mohammed Isaar, suspect that he was killed on the suspicion of stealing prasad from a Ganesh Chaturthi stall.
Even among the six adults who have been arrested so far, three are teenagers. All the accused are aged below 25 — a telling piece of statistics at a time pupils in a school in Uttar Pradesh were asked to slap a Muslim child.
“The minor, aged 16, has been apprehended and he has been charged under the Juvenile Justice Act. He, along with six adults, had participated in the torture that resulted in Isaar’s death,” said a senior Delhi police officer. The law prohibits the identification of suspects aged below 18.
A police officer identified the six arrested adults as Kamal (23), who runs a DJ business; his brother Manoj (19), who owns a tailoring shop; Yunus (20), who works for Kamal as a DJ; Kishan (19) and Pappu (24), both labourers; and Lucky (19), who runs a momo stall.
All of them have been charged with murder. “The autopsy report showed blunt-force injuries all over Isaar’s body. The cause of death is shock and haemorrhage,” the police officer said.
The officer added: “The accused noticed the victim lurking around and took him to be a thief. Later, they caught him and tied him to a pole and beat him up. There was no communal angle to it.”
The officer did not identify the object or objects that the accused had suspected Isaar of trying to steal, sometime between 8am and 9am.
The victim’s father, Abdul Wahid, a 60-year-old fruit vendor in Northeast Delhi’s Sundar Nagri, said he believes that the murder of his son was a hate crime. The police said the lynching took place less than 500 metres from Isaar’s home.
“My son was mentally ill and he was lynched for eating prasad. Did he deserve to be beaten to death even if he stole some prasad? He was roaming around in the area and he could have been hungry. That’s why he may have picked up some prasad from the stall to eat,” Wahid told The Telegraph on Thursday.
“I believe they targeted him because of his religion and because he touched the prasad. Several people witnessed the horrific torture of my son but none came to Isaar’s rescue,” Wahid said.
“I want justice for my son. I am illiterate and do not know what the police are claiming. I'm sure that my son was brutally tortured and killed because of his religion,” he repeated.