New Delhi: “How can the state be so cruel – which instead of bringing them to book – is putting efforts to shield the culprits who barbarically lynched to death a young boy in a moving train in front of hundreds of commuters for no reason,” asks Jalaluddin (46), whose 16-year-old son Junaid was stabbed multiple times and killed by a mob in a Delhi-Mathura local train in June last year. The lynch mob had allegedly used communal and abusive language before the physical assault.
Junaid and his another brother Hasib, along with their two friends, were returning home at Khandawali village in Faridabad district of Haryana in a local train after shopping for Eid at Sadar Bazar in Delhi when they allegedly got into an altercation with a few passengers. The altercation turned violent when a group of 10-20 men stabbed Junaid to death and injured his brother.
The Haryana Railway Police investigated the case and filed a chargesheet.
The investigators withdrew the charges of rioting (Section 146 of the IPC), unlawful assembly (Section 149 of the IPC) and common intention (Section 34 of the IPC) against four of the six accused in the chargesheet after arresting Naresh Kumar, who had allegedly stabbed Junaid when the train reached Ballabgarh railway station, from Dhule in Maharashtra. The two other accused in the case still remain unidentified.
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The police took the plea that the charges were dropped based on the disclosure reports of the accused. The police filed a chargesheet on August 23, 2017, omitting the charges of rioting, unlawful assembly and common intention.
The investigating agency also failed to charge the accused under Sections 153A (promoting enmity on the basis of religion) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
“If the perpetrators are let to go scot-free by the investigators, can poor people like us expect justice? All important sections – including the charges of murder and common intention – against the four accused have been withdrawn. They have now bailable sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) against them. This led us to knock at the door of the Supreme Court, seeking a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe. Will my son or any other victim of the hate crimes across the country ever get justice if the police continue to do such shoddy investigations,” the ailing father said to Newsclick, who unable to bear the loss, has recently suffered a cardiac arrest.
The apex court on Monday stayed the trial of Junaid’s lynching case that was going on in a trial court in Faridabad and sought a reply from the Haryana government and the investigating agency.
“The investigation was manipulated with an aim to give the incident the shape of a conflict or clash rather than a sinister one-sided hate attack on helpless victims. The police, to achieve their objectives, introduced false witnesses and arbitrarily recorded statements of real witnesses,” he alleged.
He said his entire family has been living in fear since the incident occurred and this has broken them financially. “Earlier, we had three earning members in my family – me and my two elders sons. Following the incident, they are unable to go out because of security concerns. I used to drive an auto-rickshaw but I fell ill and cannot do hard labour. Now, the only source of income is my eldest son who is a street vendor. We are somehow surviving on the meagre income and the financial help extended by individuals and groups,” he said in helplessness.
“We are not asking for the moon, just give us justice so that my son can rest in peace in his grave. Think about a mother who lost her son at such a young age. If you listen to her silent cries, you won’t be able to bear it,” he said.
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Jalaluddin approached the apex court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed his petition, seeking CBI investigation into the case, on November 27, last year.
In his Special Leave Petition (SLP), filed through senior advocates Rebecca Mammen John and RS Cheema being assisted by advocates Tarannum Cheema, Smriti Suresh and A Karthik, the petitioner has alleged that the investigators have carried out a casual and shabby probe.
“It is patently clear from the reading of the challan papers that the two above mentioned offences and conspiracy to commit the said and the other offences were unerringly disclosed even by the motivated investigation. The investigating agency deliberately acted with undue haste because the crime had attracted huge nationwide outcry. The investigation was so managed as to minimise the damage to the marauders and to ensure that most of them are released on bail and face no serious trial at all,” reads the petition, which is being heard by a bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Mohan Shantanagoudar.
The petitioner further said the “unfair” nature of investigation became palpably clear from the reading of the alleged confessional statement of the accused. “In order to justify itself, the investigating agency has clearly brought out most of the relevant material through disclosure statements of the accused instead of incorporating the same in the statement of witnesses. The obvious design behind the same is inadmissibility of the contents of incriminating disclosure statement made by him before the police,” Jalaluddin said in the petition.
The petitioner had first moved the High Court, expressing apprehensions on the police investigation and appealing the court to order an independent probe by the central probing agency. The petitioner highlighted the “deliberate distortion of true facts” and a “clear illustration of the subversion” of the investigating functioning of various persons engaged in the task of the probe.
But the single-judge bench of the court dismissed the plea. “It is evident that allegations/counter-allegations have been levelled in the affidavits filed by the complainant’s side and the State. However, this court does not intend to express any opinion or delve deeper into the issue. The trial of the case is at a crucial stage and important prosecution witnesses have to depose, some of whom may be injured and/or eyewitnesses. It is, thus, necessary to ensure that trial proceeds in the right earnest and evidence are led promptly to ensure that it culminates. This court has no doubt that trial court would have enough expertise to swift the grain from the chaff and arrive at a fair conclusion,” observed the single judge of the High Court.
Thereafter, the court dismissed the petition saying that the allegations of subversion of the trial against the present investigating agency “lack substance”.
Jalaluddin through his counsel in the trial court – Advocate Nibrash Ahmed – then filed a letter patents appeal (LPA) for a decision by a division bench of the same court. The bench asked the petitioner to approach the apex court before March 20 as the High Court has no jurisdiction over the LPA of criminal nature.
After the High Court did not consider our arguments that the correct version has been derailed by introducing the calculated distortions, discrepancies and contradictions and ignored the national ramifications of the present case, the petition told the apex court, “There was no consideration of the apprehensions exhibited by the petitioner, despite sufficient evidence accorded by him to support the same. In fact, the High Court went on to state that the case had no national ramifications, which is an erroneous assessment of the facts, as they exist. The present case is a clear testament of communal polarisation which threatens to harm national harmony and solidarity.”