Caught in too wide a net, some still in prison as kin suffer

Caught in too wide a net, some still in prison as kin suffer

New Delhi: Shahabuddin Anwar's mother is sitting in her dark broken room, waiting for the day her son will finally be out of jail. The 22-year-old, who has been languishing in jail for more than a year now, has been accused of rioting and murdering Babbu Mohammed, his neighbour, and has now been granted bail in the case by the Delhi High Court.

After losing the only earning member of the family to jail, Shahabuddin's mother Tabassum, was found begging on the streets due to the financial conditions of the family. A widow, Tabassum said that her son used to wash utensils at marriage ceremonies. "Last year, on Choti Holi my son had gone to take his salary at Badarpur. On coming back, he had stopped at a small shop near a red light when a woman told the police standing nearby to arrest him as he was also involved in the Delhi riots. My son was taken by the police. Accidentally my younger son had seen it and came running to tell me," she said.

This version of events is corroborated by HC Anil's initial statement, as per which, he along with SI Naveen had simply gone to visit the crime scene on March 9, when they just happened upon Shahabuddin, Farman and one Ashok and took them in. SI Naveen had supervised such arrests at least on three occasions — March 8, 9 and 11.

The ailing 50-year-old Tabassum ran to the police station looking for Shahabuddin but was told that his son had been arrested for murdering Babbu and inciting violence.

As old as Shahabuddin, Farman too was picked up by the police from Khajuri Chowk on March 9 and accused in the same case — that of Babbu's murder.

Farman's family, which is living in deplorable conditions near Khajuri Khas, said that he was with them the whole time during the violence, while the police had picked him up without evidence.

The family used to live in front of the Delhi Jal Board border at Wazirabad, but are now taking shelter in the middle of a small barren park alongside Old Wazirabad Road, as their house was burnt down in a fire last year. It was due to this reason that the family set up a jhuggi at the barren park. Thin clothes on their backs, the family said that the fire took place after Farman's arrest.

The place houses six people, including Farman's parents, three siblings and his nephew. "We had no mode to hire a lawyer or know where and how we could visit Farman. From here and there, we just came to know that he was in Mandoli jail and that he was named in a Delhi riots case," Salma said.

Both Shahabuddin and Farman were picked up at the same time from the same place according to case documents and both were slapped with serious charges.

Neither had a clue as to who Babbu was — their fellow Muslim, they were accused of killing.

Babbu's family has, meanwhile, said that all the Muslim men arrested in his murder have nothing do to with it. "In my statement, I have not mentioned any Muslim names, so I do not know on what basis they are picking up people, but I am sure that Shahabuddin has been languishing in jail without any evidence," Pappu said.

In fact, while reporting this story, Millennium Post found another Muslim man who was accused and arrested in a separate rioting case from the same day in the same area. But his family, not wanting to be identified, said that he was in fact at the crime scene on February 25 only to help rescue Babbu from the mob and was caught in the CCTV as he dragged the 34-year-old auto driver away from the violence.

This man, according to case documents, was also arrested under the supervision of SI Naveen — the same officer who supervised the first 12 to 13 arrests in Babbu's murder case.

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