Alam as a man whose only aspiration was to ensure the best of education for his children

“It is pertinent to note that the Badalpur PS have refused to comment on the nature of the crime and the family fears they may pass it off as a ‘robbery’, as there was some money and valuables missing from Alam’s wallet…”
_ Statement of United Against Hate on the lynching of Aftab Alam after solidarity visit to the victim’s family:

On Wednesday, the 9th of September, two members of team United Against Hate legal team visited the bereaved family of lynching victim Aftab Alam in Trilokpuri. The team spoke to the wife of the deceased, Rehana Khatoon, as well as his mother Najmu Nisa, and three sons Sabir, Shahid and Shajid.

It was on Sunday that the eldest son, 20 year-old Mohd Sabir had discovered his father’s body in an area near Badalpur Police Station. We are informed that just hours before his death, Aftab Alam was returning home from Bulandshahr after having dropped a passenger. Sometime after 7:30pm on that evening, Sabir received a call from Aftab Alam who indicated he was near a toll booth and had been accosted by certain men in the area. Sabir says that he realised something was wrong as his father had gone silent on the other end of the call, and thus he started recording the call. A copy of this recording as evidence has also been obtained and analysed by team UAH.

In the beginning of the call-recording, seemingly drunk men can be heard asking Aftab Alam whether he would like to drink, to which Alam can be heard saying ‘No’. At 8:39 minutes, this group can be heard yelling at Aftab Alam to say Jai Shri Ram (“Jai Shri Ram bol, bol Jai Shri Ram”). Soon after, the recording goes silent but by 19:41 minutes, one can hear one of the men in the background saying “Saans ruk gayi”, which is what alerted Sabir to report the matter soon thereafter. Having recorded the call for over 40 minutes until his father’s phone is said to have switched off, Sabir says he went to the Mayur Vihar PS where Sub-Inspector Sanjay helped him locate his father’s body via tracking the last location of his phone.

Sabir has said that they were not informed by any police official from Badalpur Police station regarding the incident and when they reached the location they saw two policemen standing with the car of his father . On inquiring police officials told him that his father is fine and has been taken to mohan swaroop hospital for the treament . After 3 hours the family was allowed to see Aftab Alam where he was lying heavily bruised, with a large cut on his face and indications of belt-marks on his neck. His ears were bleeding and there also seemed to be a gash on his skull and was declared dead .

Although the FIR was registered, Alam’s family fear the case will be transferred from Badalpur jurisdiction (where his body was discovered ) to Bulandshahr . Given UP Police’s track record on anti-Muslim hate crimes and mob-lynchings, there is a risk of the investigation and case being compromised. Currently, the FIR has been registered against unknown persons under IPC sections 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) 302 (punishment for murder) and 201(causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender). We at team UAH have promised full legal and material support to the family, and hope to ensure thorough police action at the earliest. We would like to highlight the role of Sabir’s immense presence of mind, as he has managed to obtain both call-recordings of the incident, as well as document everything since then. A copy of the toll-parchas which his father paid also have been obtained by Sabir as further proof of the story, as well as photographs of the car as it was found with Alam’s dead body.

It is pertinent to note that the Badalpur PS have refused to comment on the nature of the crime and the family fears they may pass it off as a ‘robbery’, as there was some money and valuables missing from Alam’s wallet. The painstakingly collected evidence by the victim’s son is of immense value in the battle for justice and we urge that judicial action be taken on the same, in strict accordance with Supreme Court guidelines as set out in the Tehseen Poonawalla decision on lynchings. UAH would like to reiterate that the police must fulfil its commitment to due process and law, and take cognizance of the incident as a hate-crime and add relevant sections accordingly .

Lastly, we would like to note that the victim had been working as a driver since 1996, and was the sole breadwinner in this working-class family with a wife, both parents and three sons. While the eldest Sabir is yet to finish his BA, the younger two study in 12th grade at Ahlcon Public School Mayur Vihar. One of them scored 92% in his class 10th boards and is preparing for the NEET medical entrances. They all speak of Alam as a man whose only aspiration was to ensure the best of education for his children, even if they had little means. His wife said that he would always bring home a copy of the newspapers, and read out inspirational stories to his children. Their former employer based out of Allahabad-Lucknow, as well as the sons’ schoolteachers have also promised help and cooperation. We note that this only goes to show that Alam’s own life bridged relationships beyond communal or Hindu-Muslim lines, and it is crucial that the murderers not be given any excuses for impunity. We at team UAH also extended full material support toward the sons’ needs and education.

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