Dadri Lynching: Accused Threaten Akhlaq’s Family to Withdraw Case
“We will get justice, though it could be delayed,” says Akhlaq’s family to The Quint.
On 28 September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched to death by a mob at his residence in Bishada village in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, for allegedly consuming beef. The murder sent shockwaves across the country – an unprecedented incident that was followed by many similar episodes of lynchings by gau-rakshaks in the name of protecting the so-called holy cow in different parts of the country.
Over two-and-a-half years have passed since, but Akhlaq’s family is still waiting for justice.
Recently, two of the 18 accused in the case – who are out on bail – allegedly directly approached Akhlaq’s family and threatened them of serious repercussions if they don’t withdraw the case from court.
Akhlaq’s brother, Jaan Mohammad, told The Quint that the some villagers of Bishada, acting as the spokespersons for the accused, had approached him several times to withdraw the case, but this was the first time the accused themselves threatened him.
About a month ago, two of the accused – Vivek and Gaurav – came to my house with their family members and they told me to withdraw the case against them. They said if we don’t do so, then they will harm my family as well as Akhlaq’s.Jaan Mohammad, Akhlaq’s brother
Mohammad said he told the accused and their accomplices that “the court will decide the matter.” However, he is still worried about his family’s safety.
While the Indian Air Force (IAF) has provided accommodation to Akhlaq’s family in the Cantonment area of New Delhi because his eldest son, Sartaj, is a corporal in the force, Mohammad is still living in Dadri – and that is why he is repeatedly approached.
Case Can Only be Diluted: Akhlaq’s Family Counsel
According to Mohammad’s counsel, advocate Mohammad Yusuf Saifi, the case cannot be withdrawn – it can only be diluted by weakening the testimony of the key witnesses. In this case, the key witnesses are Akhlaq’s son Danish, his wife Ikram, and daughter Sajida.
His lawyers are now planning to file an application informing the court about the incident:
The accused are only trying to build pressure on Akhlaq’s family through his brother. It is in complete violation of the bail order. The accused cannot approach or threaten victims. We are likely to move an application in the court requesting cancellation of their bail.Mohammad Yusuf Saifi, victim’s counsel
Cow Slaughter Case a Weight Around the Family’s Neck
The Quint also spoke to Akhlaq’s younger son, Danish, who was injured while trying to protect his father from the mob attack. He is also one of the eyewitnesses in the case.
The accused filed a counter-complaint against the victim’s family. Upon the court’s order, the police registered an FIR under the Cow Slaughter Act against Akhlaq’s family.
The court also ordered the police to complete the probe within three months. But over one-and-a-half years have passed since, and the Uttar Pradesh police have still not filed the final report in court.
My brother Sartaj was informed by the Senior Superintendent of Police and the Station House Officer that the police will file a final report in the court seeking closure of the FIR. But till now, nothing has happened. We fear that the police, in connivance with the accused, might use this case against us or blackmail us and dilute the case.Danish, Akhlaq’s son
Sartaj was told by a policeman that because of “political pressure, the police is not filing a final report,” Danish claimed.
Victims Request Better Police Protection
After the Dadri lynching incident, one police gunner each was assigned to Akhlaq’s family and his lawyer for their protection.
A few months ago, the Uttar Pradesh Police withdrew Saifi’s gunner without giving a reason.
I don’t know why the police withdrew my gunner. I have written to the police and asked them for a police gunner. I fear for my life because I am the victim’s lawyer in a sensitive case.Mohammad Yusuf Saifi, Akhlaq’s lawyer
On the other hand, Akhlaq’s elder son, Sartaj, had also written to the police requesting an additional gunner for his family; however, the UP Police have not yet accepted his request.
One police gunner is not sufficient for my entire family. Usually, everyday the gunner accompanies my brother, Sartaj, to his office, leaving the rest of the family without any protection.Danish, Akhlaq’s son
Justice Could Be Delayed But We Hope It Won’t Be Denied: Danish
In spite of Akhlaq’s case being heard in a fast track court, the victim’s family alleged that for the past one-and-a-half years, the court has not framed charges against the accused yet because of flimsy applications moved by the accused’s lawyers just to delay the hearing.
There are around eight lawyers representing all the accused. Every month, one lawyer moves an application challenging the charges against their client. The court has to hear all these applications. Like this, the accused have succeeded in delaying the case.Danish, Akhlaq’s son
Citing the example of the Jharkhand lynching case in which all accused were convicted in less than a year from the day of the incident, Danish said his family is being made to wait for justice.
My family and I are still not completely over the trauma. That incident still haunts us. I am still not able to socialise with people. Despite the delay in court hearings, we hope for justice.Danish
Danish said that since the state government was fighting the case for his family, it could instruct the prosecution lawyer to expedite court proceedings.
Akhlaq’s family hopes to visit their home in Bishada village once justice is delivered. Danish, who is now preparing for post-graduation, said life will never be the same for him or his family.
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