Lucknow,Azaan Javaid: Nineteen neighbours of Mohamad Akhlaq in Dadri, who was lynched on the suspicion of eating beef, were unaware of the incident happening just a few feet away from their houses, according to their statements to Uttar Pradesh Police. Most of them claim that they were sleeping, while one neighbour said he was drunk. A few others said they were working at their farms. The incident in which Akhlaq and his son Danish were attacked happened at around 10 in the night on September 28, 2015.
Police case diary as accessed by dna reveals that the accused have made ‘contradictory’ statements and there was no witness outside the Akhlaq family, who have identified the attackers. Nineteen neighbours, whose statements were recorded on three days – November 23, December 2 and December 12 – said they don’t know who the attackers were. Besides, there is no material evidence whatsoever to identify any of the 19 accused, including the son of a BJP leader in the case.
The picture as emerges from the police case diary is that the killing was a result of a spontaneous reaction by a mob. That’s it! It names 19 accused on the basis of statements given by Akhlaq’s family, but the police have not gathered even one evidence or statement from those outside Akhlaq’s family to establish the identity of the accused or people who were part of the mob.
Akhlaq’s family claimed that they heard the announcement and 10-15 minutes later the mob shouting abusing, broke the doors of their home and attacked them while they cried for help.
According to the police diary, most of the neighbours told the cops that they were sleeping at the time of the incident and only woke up after the murder had taken place.
While one neighbour told police that he was in an inebriated state after having a ‘drink’, another female neighbour is recorded saying that she was out working on her farm at the time of murder which took place at around 10 pm.
Two of those questioned told police they were at the fruit market at the time of the murder. One neighbour identified as Moolchand said that he was sick. Another neighbour, Rajbir, told police that he couldn’t make out anything because there was no electricity at his home.
One neighbour, identified as Vishnu, is quoted as saying, “Had I known about what was happening to Akhlaq, I would have threatened the attackers away”. Almost everyone in the list, accessed by dna, claimed that they do not know who the attackers were.
In its charge sheet police listed Akhlaq’s wife, mother, daughter and son as primary witnesses. The other 21 witnesses include police officials and medical staff attached with the investigation.
While it can be argued that the neighbours questioned by the police were in fact not aware of the murder taking place, the fact that police hardly investigated the sequence of events that took place before the mob entered the Akhlaq’s home raises doubts about the way the probe was conducted.
Moreover, the contradictions in the statements of Vishal and Shivam were apparently not probed. In their first statement, Vishal and Shivam are quoted as saying that they “heard the announcement” about cow slaughter. In another statement of the two accused, they are quoted as saying that they “received the news of cow slaughter”. In another statement which was produced by the investigating officer in front of the magistrate, Vishal and Shivam are quoted as saying they were provoked by others to attack Akhlaq.
But according to a UP home guard Vinay, an accused in the case, on the day of the incident Shivam brought a polythene containing some material which looked like skin and showed it to a group of people standing not far from Akhlaq’s home. The same material, according to Vinay, was shown to Dr Arun Kumar, a veterinarian (who was amongst the group of people) to find out if the meat was from a calf or a goat. Shivam told Dr Kumar, in the presence of other men from the village, that the meat was thrown at the spot by Akhlaq. Shivam is also said to have told Vinay that Dr Kumar confirmed the meat was of a calf. Vishal and Shivam then moved to the temple to make the announcement. The same group of people then attacked Akhlaq. The priest in front of whom the announcement was made finds no mention in police documents.
The investigation does point out that Shivam and Vishal had made the announcement but nowhere in the investigation has the police mentioned the status of meat recovered by Shivam. Even though they took the meat stored at Akhlaq’s home to verify if it was from a cow.
Four hours before Mohamad Akhlaq was beaten to death by a mob suspecting him of slaughtering a calf, he had visited his neighbour Zalim Singh, a government official. According to documents accessed by dna, Akhlaq had requested Zalim to help an elderly widow, identified as Lakshmi, to get her pension.