"After attacking us, the mob returned to check if we were alive or not. I did not move. They hit me with a stick on my head and then moved towards my father. They thought I was dead but they kept hitting my father on his head, they probably thought he still had chances of surviving," 25-year-old Nitin Kumar, a resident of Brahampuri, recalls the deadly violence in Gali No 1, on the night of 24 February.
With forty stitches on his forehead and blood in his left eye, he narrates to The Quint how his father, 51-year-old Vinod Kumar, was beaten up before him. The father-son duo worked as DJs at local weddings and functions.
Amongst those who have met them are local Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Mohan Lal Garaiyya, BJP leaders, including Ghonda MLA Ajay Mahawar and Jai Bhagwan Goyal.
Why They Stepped Out
"I was initially going out alone to buy medicines for my son, but my father insisted on coming along," Nitin Kumar alias Monu regrets letting his father step out of the home.
Kumar and his father had just crossed Gali no 1 in Brahampuri when they were both attacked from the front. "I couldn't understand what had happened for a few minutes. Seconds before us my nephew, who was on a scooty, had left unaffected. They didn't even look back as they didn't think we were attacked."
As Nitin looks at his nephew, a lanky teenager standing silently in a corner of the room. After the mob thrashed Nitin and Vinod, they also burnt their bike.
‘Begged Them to Stop’
I got up after they seemed to have gone, but they were around. There were many more. While some had stopped with the stone pelting, 15 other Muslims continued to pelt stones. I was begging them to leave my father alone but they still kept screaming Allahu Akbar," Nitin recalls, adding how two men helped him drag his father away from the fire and the mob.
People stared at Nitin, bleeding profusely from his head, walking around in need of help. "I begged everyone for help, to take my father to the doctor, but no one came forward. Then out of nowhere a man came on a bike and asked me to sit on the bike. He was a Hindu."
Nitin picked up his father's limping body, which felt lifeless and heavy, and put it on the bike between himself and the stranger who had decided to help him. Holding onto his father tightly, he remembers how he could still feel his father breathing. From Gali no 1, where his bike continued to burn, they went straight to Shahdara's Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital, a few kilometers away.
The News of His Father’s Death
Nitin was taken straight away for a CT scan, away from his father who was put on a stretcher and taken elsewhere for examination. "When I came out after the CT scan, they told me my father had died."
The cries of his son, for whom he had stepped out to get medicines, can be heard from inside the room, while Nitin sits outside to greet those who’ve come to mourn his father’s death. For at least three days Nitin had not got the stitches on his head checked, dried blood was visible from under the tape covering his wound.
Vinod's wife sat next to her son, reticent and unmoved by the events that unfolded.
Lanes populated with Muslim families say the tension has defused. "No incident has happened. Nothing at all. The tension has reduced drastically and there is nothing more to worry about," an elderly Muslim resident reassured. But the Hindu settlements painted a different picture – they expressed suspicion and resentment against Muslims.
Gali number 1, like many other streets in Brahampuri, has been barricaded by primarily Hindu residents. While speaking to some people about where exactly Vinod and Nitin were attacked, they said, "The mob screamed Allahu Akbar, they pelted stones repeatedly. We were so scared". In other lanes, the people said they had not slept all night as they were wary of the Muslim labourers living across the road. "There are small factories here, of electronics and computers, it is the labour here who are engaging in senseless violence. They are predominantly Muslims. They had broken glasses, sticks and rods on them," an elderly individual said.