Khan Iqbal | India Tomorrow
New Delhi–A famous fitness trainer was hacked to death by a group of 40 heavily armed youth at Khalilpur-Kheda village in Nuh district of Haryana on May 16.
Identified as Asif Khan, he was running a gym in the area. Police later arrested six accused in the case. However, last week police released four of them after villagers held a Maha Panchayat to support the alleged killers.
Those released have been identified as Anoop, Mohinder, Raj Kumar, and Sandeep. Special Investigation Team (SIT) chief Sudhir Taneja said during the investigation, they were found innocent.
Asif’s family members, however, rebutted the police saying those released are the main accused in the case.
Located110 kilometers from Delhi, Khalilpur-Kheda village is part of the Mewat region. Palwal district starts from the point where the territorial jurisdiction of Ghaziabad ends. This area has a high concentration of Muslim population.
For the last few years, there has been a number of lynching incidents in the Mewat region. It is the same region where Pehlu Khan was lynched after being accused of bovine smuggling. Later Rakbar was also lynched to death. Some months after, 17-year-old Hafiz Junaid was stabbed to death when he was traveling in a train
However, the Asif lynching case is different from others in many ways. Asif belongs to an affluent family and his brother is a constable in Haryana police. His uncle is a former Sarpanch of the village.
“Asif was suffering from fever on a fateful day. He was returning home after buying medicines. He was accompanied by his cousin Rashid and friend Wasif. Soon after they boarded their car, two vehicles started chasing them. There were more than 15 people on board two cars. They later stopped Asif’s car and started beating the trio,” said Mohammad Hanif, uncle of deceased Asif.
Rashid who is the eyewitness of the incident said they first thrashed them with canes and rods, and later whisked away Asif. “I called up the family to inform them about the incident. By the time we reached the spot, they had killed Asif,” he said.
Asif’s body was found four kilometers from Sohana village in Nangli area. Asif’s family alleged that police were already present at the spot. “On the fateful day, we saw many motorbikes going towards Sohana village. This was a preconceived murder. He was killed because he was a Muslim,” said Hanif.
Rashid said some of the killers are from their village. “I told them that you are from our village and why are doing it. We can resolve all issues amicably. They used communal rants and threatened to make our lives hell. They said they would have to raise Hindutva slogans,” he said.
Hanif said small altercations used to happen in the village but it never reached a point where a person was murdered. “Asif was brutally killed. The post-mortem report has revealed that his 27 bones were fractured. They hit him on his face and chest,” he said.
On May 30, a video of Maha Panchayat became viral. Maha Panchayat was organized to support the killers and pressure the police to release the accused. Karni Sena chief and BJP leader Surajpal Singh spewed venom against Muslims. He even justified the lynching of Asif Khan.
“Muslims are not our brothers, they are butchers. When they post pictures of our mothers and daughters on social media, shouldn’t we kill them?” he asked.
Maha Panchayat was organized in many villages including Sohan, Kiri and Badola. A massive meeting was held at Indri village. Media reports suggest that almost 50000 people participated in Maha Panchayat at Indri. People from Haryana, Delhi, and Rajasthan came to Indri to participate in the Maha Panchayat.
However, people in Mewat said only five to seven thousand people took part in Maha Panchayat at Indri. “These people are trying to fan communal tension and trigger riots. People who participated in Maha Panchayat challenged even the police. What can we say,” said Hanif.
Asif was married for eight years. He has three kids, the eldest being seven years old and the youngest seven months old. “Go and tell anyone in the village about the character of my son. He was friendly and helpful. I never raised my hand against Asif, but killers mercilessly murdered him. My son was handsome and they mutilated his face,” said Asif’s mother.
Asif’s father Mohommad Zakir said these people are resorting to mudslinging and making false accusations against his son. “They have an agenda,” he said