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UP: Family Says Man Killed for Celebrating BJP Win, Police Point Out Previous Disputes

Babar Ali's family has alleged that the police did not take action when he had earlier complained about threats to his life.

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New Delhi: Twenty-eight-year-old Babar Ali, a young Muslim man from Kushinagar district in Uttar Pradesh, died last week after being beaten up allegedly by his neighbours on March 20. His family has alleged that he was attacked because he had celebrated the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in the state assembly elections. The police, however, say there were longstanding issues between the accused and the victim, over a drain and other matters.

Two men, Arif and Tahid, have been arrested and the hunt for other accused is on, according to the police. Babar has two children, a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, and used to run a food stall to sustain his family.

According to the locals, Ali had campaigned for the BJP candidate from Kushinagar, P.N. Pathak. Pathak is now the MLA from Kushinagar.

The incident occurred in Kushinagar’s Kathgarhi village. According to the victim’s brother, Chande Alam, Ali had reached out to the police authorities multiple times saying he was receiving threats, but to no avail.

“Before this incident, Babar was threatened several times, asking for protection. The police didn’t pay heed then,” he said. He said that his brother had voted for the BJP, which upset the accused.

“When the BJP won in UP, he distributed sweets and burst crackers. They did not like it. The posters and banners put up by him too were torn,” he said.

According to locals, Ali was not a member of the BJP.

On the day of the incident, according to the victim’s family, he was brutally beaten up and then thrown off the terrace of the house. Alam said, “When they threw him off the terrace, they were shouting: “Modi murdabad, Yogi murdabad, Babar murdabad”. His wife and two children who were inside the house at the time could hear it.”

The victim was admitted to the district hospital in Kushinagar on March 20, but was later shifted to Lucknow as his condition was not improving. Five days later, he succumbed to his injuries in Lucknow.

When his body was brought back to his village for his last rites, his family staged a protest and refused to perform the last rites, demanding action against the accused.

Kushinagar MLA Pathak and the sub-divisional magistrate later came to the spot and assured the family of strict action, after which the family agreed to perform the last rites. The MLA too participated in the rituals.

While speaking to the media present there, he said that the people who are involved will not be spared. “We will get the accused arrested. Unki nasal bhi aisa kaam karne ki himmat nahin karegi, ye mera vachan hai (Even their descendants will not dare behave in this way, that is my vow),” he told the media.

The victim’s brother, Alam, said that one of the reasons Ali died was because of the police inaction. “If they had acted earlier, he would not have died. The inaction of the police emboldened them [the accused],” he said.

Babar Ali’s wife and children.

But the police say that the earlier applications that were submitted were related to previous disputes. Deputy Superintendent of Police Circle Officer (CO) Kushinagar, Sandeep Verma, told The Wire, “They had some previous dispute and gave an application regarding that earlier. In that application, no political feud was mentioned.”

He added that preventive action 107/ 116 and CRPC 151 was taken against the accused on the basis of the earlier application. He added, “As far as the allegations in the FIR, the charges are being investigated thoroughly. The investigation will be concluded on the basis of those facts.”

Abida Khatoon, the victim’s sister, too said that her brother was beaten up brutally by the accused but their earlier complaints were not heeded.

An FIR was registered on the basis of the victim’s wife Fatima Khatoon’s complaint on March 21, a day after the incident. The family says that women too were involved in beating Ali up.

The four accused in the FIR – Azimullah, Arif, Salma and Tahid – have been booked under multiple sections of the IPC including section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide.)