Days after 23-year-old Sahil, a first-year college student, lost his life after being beaten in north Delhi’s Jafrabad, reportedly because of a dispute over using a lane, his family has claimed that he was killed as the accused mistook him “to be a Muslim”.
The police, however, say the incident is not communal, and have arrested two on the charge of murder.
On the one hand, Sahil’s mother, Sangeeta, said that he had gone to help his friend’s brother, who had reportedly got into a scuffle with someone named Sanjay Chandrabhan and his minor son, late on Friday, 30 August.
Sahil’s father claims the fight began when his son, along with his friends, were returning from a birthday party. He said they were stopped by Chandrabhan and his son. Singh said Chandrabhan was drunk and had asked the boys why they were “passing through a lane inhabited by pandits.” He further claimed that the attackers snatched the keys of Sahil’s bike.
Sangeeta has a different story. She claims Sahil had pleaded with Chandrabhan to let his friend’s brother off after they entered into a scuffle. He also promised to not use their lane in the future. However, his pleas fell on deaf ears and he ended up being mercilessly thrashed.
When asked about the communal angle, Singh said the “entire lane is saying that a Muslim has been killed.” He stated that he is sure the attackers of the ‘panditon waali gali‘ had beaten Sahil because they had mistaken him to be Muslim.
After the ordeal, Sahil had walked up to his family’s third-floor residence and narrated the incident to his parents. “He said that he was not at fault and was only trying to solve a dispute,” said Sangeeta, recalling Sahil’s final moments.
He fell unconscious on her lap and, upon being taken to the hospital, was declared “brought dead”.
“I didn’t realise that he had passed away in my lap. I wouldn’t have named him Sahil had I known that it would turn out to be the cause of his death,” she said, her voice cracking.
The Quint met Sahil’s friends who were present at the scene of crime.
At around 9 pm on Friday, Sahil’s friends Vicky and Yogesh were passing through Lane Number 5 near Anand Park on their motorbike when they were stopped by Sanjay Chandrabhan and his son.
According to them, Chandrabhan asked them why they were passing through a “lane inhabited by pandits.”
The news of the two being beaten up reached Abhishek, who was attending a birthday party with Sahil. 22-year-old Abhishek claims that when he and Sahil reached Lane Number 5, a crowd had already gathered at the spot.
Abhishek recalls how he and his friends were thrashed by Chandrabhan, who he also thought was drunk. While he, along with the others, managed to escape, “Sahil was left behind as he had fallen down. He was then beaten with sticks. We waited for him near a corner and dropped him home, but only after he was thrashed. On the way, he complained of body pain,” Abhishek said.
However, they suspect that since they had called Sahil by his name, Chandrabhan could have mistaken him to be Muslim. When asked if other eye-witnesses had spoken to them about the ‘Muslim’ angle, none of Sahil’s friends offered a definitive answer.