New Delhi: On Wednesday (February 26), brothers Aamir Khan and Hashim Ali called home at 9:30 pm to say they will be back in five minutes. The two had been staying with their nani (maternal grandmother) in Bhopura, Ghaziabad – about eight km from where they lived in North East Delhi’s Old Mustafabad.
Hashim, 19, worked in a jeans factory and Aamir, 30, was a driver. Aamir has two young daughters – 5.5 and two years old.
“They went to meet their grandmother last week because she hadn’t been keeping well,” their chacha (maternal uncle) Mohammad Aziz told The Wire on Sunday evening. “Then they stayed on there because of the violence. On Wednesday evening things seemed calmer, so they decided to come back.”
After that phone call, though, the family did not hear back from the brothers. When they tried to call them, their phone was switched off. Worried, they managed to make their way to the Dayalpuri police station on February 27, between 3 and 4 pm.
“At the station, they started showing us photographs of bodies that had been found. We identified Aamir and Hashim, and they told us they had found the bodies in a drain that morning,” Aziz said.
“There were cuts all over their bodies – face, shoulders, back, chest. Even their hands looked like they had been stamped upon.”
The brothers’ were on a motorcycle, and the police found the burnt number plate near where the bodies were recovered. They haven’t recovered the rest of the vehicle, and Aziz is convinced it is one of the many charred vehicles lining the streets of North East Delhi right now.
The death toll in the riots is now at 46. Including Aamir and Hashim, at least eight bodies have been pulled out of drains in the area.
On Sunday morning, the family had got the brothers’ bodies back after the post-mortem. The burial was conducted on Sunday afternoon.
When The Wire visited the brothers’ home, their elder brother Sheruddin and father Babu had gone to pray after burying the two. Ali said their mother and Aamir’s wife did not want to speak to any journalists and were not able to come to terms with the news.
When asked whether the police acted responsibly during the violence, Aziz hesitated. He then suggested that the blame rested higher up. “You know what’s been happening here, you have gone across this area,” he said.
“Let me say this. If you own a motorcycle, and I am your driver, I will start the bike only when you tell me to. Until then, I will wait. The police is also working for someone. They are following orders. They did not stop the violence because they had orders not to.”