Bihar: 2 weeks after a Muslim youth was lynched in Muzaffarpur, main accused yet to be arrested, family demands justice

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A 23-year-old Muslim youth was allegedly lynched by a mob on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Chatth Puja on October 30 in the Muzzafarpur district of Bihar. 

Sami Ahmad |

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PATNA (BIHAR) — Two weeks after a 23-year-old Muslim youth was lynched by a mob in Mahartha village in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, police are yet to arrest the main accused even as three persons were arrested on November 13 for helping the accused to abscond. 

On a relatively peaceful occasion of Chhath Puja on October 30, a Muslim youth Mohammad Nehal was lynched by a mob in Mahartha village, which lies 75 kilometres north of the state capital Patna.

The victim Nehal had reportedly gone to meet a girl (who is Hindu) at Chatth ghat on the day of the incident. 

Nehal’s family is grief-stricken and alleged that the police did not reach on time to save their kin even though repeated calls were made to helpline number 112 by the victim on the day of the incident. 

Why was Nihal killed?
As per Nehal’s family, he (Nehal) was in a relationship with a girl from a different religion. On the day of the assault, they said Nehal got a call from the girl who asked him to come to Chhath ghat. “It is where the assault took place as the girl’s relatives caught hold of him and severely beat him with the help of others,” a member of his family said. 

Nehal lived in Hazam Tola (Muslim barbers’ locality) in Muzaffarpur, while the girl is from a nearby area of Bibigang. Both areas fall under the same police station of Brahmpura. On the day of the assault, the girl had reportedly gone to her maternal home in Mahartha to celebrate the Hindu festival of Chhath. 

Nehal’s family claims that on the day of the incident they made frantic calls to the girl’s father pleading with him “to beat Nehal if he so wished but not kill the boy.” 

A court paper, which has gone viral on social media, suggests that Nehal and the girl were married. The paper dated November 20, 2018, is signed by Nehal and the girl. Local media reports suggest that the girl’s father allegedly spread a rumour that Nehal was involved in eve-teasing and gathered people “who beat him to death”. A newspaper report states that the policemen deputed at the ghat did not act and when Kanti police reached the spot the victim could not be saved. 

A first information report (FIR) filed by Nehal’s mother Shamim Khatoon in Kanti Police station names six accused persons besides the other 100 unknown accused. 

Abhishek Anand, DySP East, Muzaffarpur, who is monitoring the case told that it is apparently a case of “planned murder” as Nehal and the girl’s family had a prolonged police case going on between them. Pertinently, in 2019, the girl’s family had filed a case of extortion against Nehal. 

Regarding police deputation, he said, “There are many small ghats, and policemen were deputed in the vicinity but there were no policemen at the place of occurrence.” 

“We have arrested three persons for helping the main accused to abscond. Our team is working tirelessly to nab the culprits with technical surveillance. We have raided many places and hope that the main accused will be arrested soon as the police have collected their contact details,” he said.  

According to the locals, after Nehal’s father passed away his mother remarried in Kolkata. Nehal’s stepfather Mohammad Bari told the media that they were in Kolkata at the time of the incident. According to him, Nehal was working with him in Kolkata in a small leather goods business after passing his matriculation. “Nehal and the girl were in a relationship. At one time, the girl had arrived in Kolkata but we handed the girl back to her parents in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. The girl somehow got the contact number of Nehal and asked him to meet her on Chhath. It seems that the father of the girl, Shambhu Sah and her maternal uncle Niraj Sah hatched a conspiracy to get Nehal killed. Girls’ other relatives also joined and beat Nehal with iron rods, bricks, and stones. Nehal succumbed to his injuries within minutes. Nehal’s friend Faizan was also beaten mercilessly,” he alleged. 

Bari demanded justice for his stepson and urged the police to arrest the accused, including the girl’s father and maternal uncle. 

Bari told the media that around 5 p.m. on the day of the incident, they requested Shambhu Sah to spare Nehal but to no avail. “We told him that they would come to Muzaffarpur next morning and resolve the issue but our pleas went unheard and Nehal was killed,” he said. 

Nehal’s uncle Mohammad Jasim told that on the day of the incident on October 30 Nehal got calls from the girl to reach the Chhath ghat. “As soon as he arrived at the spot, the girl’s relatives dragged him and started beating him,” Jasim alleged. 

Jasim said that Nehal’s friend Faizan tried to intervene and save him but “the assaulters were many in number.”  

“As he (Faizan) tried to protect Nehal, he too was beaten,” Jasim added.

Sami Ahmad is a journalist based in Patna, Bihar. He tweets at @samipkb