New Delhi: Three years after Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched to death, his family has been to 45 court hearings, but the trial against 17 of the accused is yet to begin. The fast-track court is still hearing arguments in the cases against the accused. According to the Indian Express, the family does not expect to return home in Dadri. They have one wish – and that is for the case to conclude quickly.
Mohammad Jaan, Akhlaq’s younger brother, said that the police have not still made any efforts to identify and arrest suspects except those named by Akhlaq’s daughter.
Yusuf Saifi, the family’s lawyer, told the Indian Express that one of the main reasons for the delay is the defence lawyers putting up several ‘discharge applications’. “Some of the applications have been dismissed. Other applications, such as asking for a CBI investigation, directing to register a case against Akhlaq’s family for possessing beef among others, have also been filed…In the last hearing in September there was a strike called by lawyers and the hearing did not happen,” he said.
The delay has been compounded by the transfer of judges hearing the case. Two judges have been transferred and the files have been placed before the third judge. “It may take two-three hearings after which, hopefully, charges will be framed,” Saifi said.
Aklahq’s wife Ikraman (43) and her children Danish (25), Shaista (23) now live in the air force quarters in Delhi’s Subroto Park, where the couple’s eldest son Sartaj (29) works. Danish was also injured by the mob that killed his father. Ikraman and Shaista have been traumatised by the incident, the Indian Express reported. They moved to Delhi as they felt they would not be safe in Dadri.
Sartaj and his family members are unwilling to talk to the media.
The family has also been dealing with the cow-slaughter case which was registered against them in 2016. In August that year, the Allahabad high court stayed the arrest of all the family members, except Mohammad Jaan. According to Jaan, neither a chargesheet has been filed nor attempts have been made to arrest him. “It is just hanging over me and no action has been taken. Four months ago, some of the accused and their guardians came to my house appealing to me to withdraw the case and offering to withdraw the counter-case in return… Let the case be pursued, I am not afraid,” he told the Indian Express.
Accused out on bail, some may contest Lok Sabha elections
Meanwhile, all the accused are now out on bail. Of the 18, one died while in jail.
In October last year, reports said that a BJP MLA had facilitated employment of 15 of the accused in the NTPC, which was later denied by the company.
News reports have suggested that at least two of the accused – Hari Om Sisodia (28) and Rupendra Rana – are likely to contest the Lok Sabha elections with the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena’s ticket. The same party is also considering giving a ticket to Shambhu Lal Regar, who hacked and burnt a Muslim labourer on video in Rajsamand, Rajasthan.
Speaking to HuffPost India, Sisodia said, “What happened to Mohammad Akhlaq was the right thing.” He added that if he is elected, he would see to it that not a single cow would be killed. “Mohammad Akhlaq messed with our religion, he messed with our gau mata, what happened to him was right. Anyone who kills cows will meet a similar end,” Sisodia told HuffPost India on Wednesday, when the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena made a formal announcement of his candidacy.
While BJP leaders have been open in their support to the accused – including promises of getting them bail, blaming the victim’s family and draping the national flag around the body of Ravin Sisodia, one of the accused who died –, Harim Om Sisodia seems to be under the impression that they have not done enough.
“The BJP leaders said that we will ensure justice, we will make sure you are financially okay, and we will get you jobs. But they did nothing. I’m unemployed. The main thing was ‘case wapas ho jayega‘, [the case would be withdrawn] but that has not happened yet,” he told HuffPost India.