Was Arbaz Mulla Killed for Rs 17k Bribe? He Tried Escaping Ram Sene: Family
Muslim youth Arbaz Mulla was in an interfaith relationship with a Hindu woman, says family.
Six months before 24-year-old Arbaz Aftab Mulla was allegedly killed at Belagavi, he had earnestly tried to avoid what he felt was a threat to his life from the right-wing outfit, Sri Ram Sene, his family told The Quint. On 26 September, Mulla was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 17,000 to keep the Ram Sene leaders "happy", his family added.
While the family did not pay up, Mulla’s severed head, leg, and torso were found on a railway track near Khanapur, Karnataka on Saturday, 2 October. He is believed to have been killed on Wednesday, 28 September. Mulla, a Muslim youth, was killed because he was in a relationship with a Hindu woman for two years, his family alleges.
Karnataka police have detained for questioning eight people with connections to Ram Sene in the case.
‘Wanted the Relationship to End for Fear of Harm’
Mulla’s family had tried to break-off the relationship when they came to know of it a year ago. The deceased and his lover were neighbours in Maruti Nagar, Khanapur. “The girl, as she was a neighbour, used to visit Arbaz’s home regularly for almost a year. Arbaz’s mother sat down with her parents a year ago and had requested them not to allow the girl to visit their home. She did not want her son to be seen with the girl as the family feared that it would trigger communal tension,” Sameer Parishwadi, Mulla’s cousin told The Quint.
Mulla’s mother Nazeema Mohammed Gouse Sheikh has lodged a complaint with Belagavi police, accusing the Sene of killing her son. Mulla had gone missing on Tuesday, 28 September, from his home in Belagavi, the complaint lodged on Wednesday, 29 September, reads.
The family, which was staying at Khanapur till 2020, shifted to Belagavi six months ago on Mulla’s insistence. “He feared that the girl’s family would keep her on house arrest. By then, Ram Sene local leaders had warned him of dire consequences. He was worried,” said Parishwadi. Despite the move, Mulla could not end the relationship. “He tried to distance himself from the girl at first and soon realised that he could not do that. The girl too was very keen on continuing the relationship and Arbaz loved her very much,” the cousin said.
‘Met Ram Sene Leaders Six Months Ago’
In conversations with family and friends, Mulla used to bring up his love. “Since the past six months he has been worried that there could be a threat to his life,” Parishwadi said. Reason for Mulla’s fear was a meeting he allegedly had with Ram Sene leaders, Pundalik Maharaj and Bhijre. Mulla, along with his mother was called to a secluded location to meet the leaders. “They asked him to stay away from the girl. They told him that he would be assaulted if he did not,” Parishwadi said.
Mulla would get several phone calls from Ram Sene leaders, he added. “They used to ask him to meet them whenever he was in Khanapur,” the relative said.
Mulla, however, continued to be in touch with his girlfriend, both on phone and in person.
As Mulla’s family was building a new house in Khanapur, his visits to the locality too had increased in the past six months. “During each of these visits, he tried to steer clear of the Ram Sene’s path,” Parishwadi said.
Three months ago, in June, the family realised that Mulla was still under threat and contacted the local mosque’s Jamaat. The religious body, however, did not intervene in the case. “The Jamaat leaders only asked the family to advise Arbaz. Teach him Quranic values and he will leave the relationship, they said,” Parishwadi rued.
The Final Meeting: Rs 17,000 Asked
Mulla, most often got threat calls on Whatsapp. When he blocked one number, another popped up with more threats, his family alleged. “Most of these calls were from unknown persons but they always referred to the meeting with Maharaj and other Sene leaders,” Parishwadi said. The cell numbers were saved in his phone as ‘Ram Sene Anna’ or Ram Sene brother.
Three days before he went missing, Mulla and his mother were called for a meeting with Ram Sene leaders again. In the meeting that took place at Khanapur, he was asked to delete all the photos of his girlfriend from his phone. His family now allege that Mulla was also asked to pay up an ‘appeasement amount’ to keep the leaders "happy".
“They asked his family to pay Rs 17,000. They did not have the cash right away and were not sure whether the threats will stop even if they pay up,” Parishwadi said.
Mulla’s mother promised to pay the amount on Paytm. The payment was, however, not made.
Was Mulla killed over this sum of money? His family thinks that they should have paid the amount to save Mulla’s life. “If we had paid, they would have asked for more money. But at least they would have spared his life,” Parishwadi said.
On 28 September, Mulla got a call from one of the Sene leaders, his call records which Belagavi police are scrutinising, have revealed. At this time, his mother was in Goa on a personal trip. Mulla informed his grandmother that he will be away for a while, his family said. “He left both his phones with his grandmother and asked her to move to a relative’s home. He was worried for her safety as he left,” Parishwadi said.
The family could not trace Mulla after he left home at 5 pm on 28 September.
Currently, Belagavi police personnel investigating the case said that Mulla could have been murdered because he “was in some local leaders’ bad books”. The role of his girlfriend’s family in the murder is also being probed, the police told The Quint.
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