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'Save Us Please': Driver, Father-Son Duo Killed in Haldwani Violence, Kin Shaken

Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

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(Trigger Warning: Graphic visuals of violence. Viewers discretion is advised)

"His mother is very scared and shaken and she can't talk. She lost her husband some years ago and now losing a young child like this."

Javed Qureshi, 28, a resident of Haldwani recounted the violence in the city attacks on 8 February, when his cousin brother Faheem Hadi, 30, was killed amid indiscriminate and targeted attacks.

What preceded the violence was the demolition of a mazar and a madarsa, to which objections were raised, but as per the locals rioters added fueled to the fire and prompted the violence.

"My brother who was killed just like that had nothing to do with either the demolition or the mob on the road. He was simply sitting at home which is around 100 meters away from the incident of violence," said Javed.

It was only after Hadi saw all his vehicles, a TATA Ace (Chota Haathi), one bullet, two scooters and two autos set on fire that he rushed outside. Here comes in Sanjay Sonkar, the main accused in the case, according to Javed.

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'Saw Opportunity in The Violence To Kill Him'

Javed said the mob outside their house included Sonkar and his son who were shouting slogans, provoking them and damaging their vehicles.

There is a history of conflict between Sonkar and Hadi, wherein years ago Hadi had a wall built in a side in their lane for safety, however, Sonkar took offence and had been disgruntled since then.

"My brother came down and was trying to douse off the fire and ask them why they were doing it. They shot him thrice within two-three seconds. One bullet on his chest, one on stomach and the other went through his knee."
Javed to The Quint

In the video accessed by The Quint, the locals are heard shouting "Kat***" and abusing "Teri Behen Ch** Denge."

In the following photo, Hadi's house is marked. His two vehicles that were brunt.

Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

Upper left is Hadi's place. Below, two vehicles belonging to Hadi can be seen on fire.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

"They gave the fight a Hindu-Muslim angle, started throwing stones from their end and started shouting slogans like 'Jai Shri Ram Kehna Hoga,'and insulting slogans. We had not started anything. The police was standing away but behind them," added Javed.
Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

In this video, the mob can be seen destroying their vehicles and pelting stones.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Hadi was rushed to Krishna hospital were the authorities told them he had stopped breathing and referred them to Sushila Tiwari Hospital. They got the papers done and were told to go to the mortuary then. The family awaits the post-mortem report.

Javed recalled that Sonkar had even allegedly threatened one of Hadi's eldest brothers, Bablu, some days ago that he will kill Hadi.

Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

Faheem Hadi killed in Haldwani violence.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

The madrasa and mazar which were demolished have led to the deaths of several locals. While SP Harbans Singh had put the death toll at 6, SP Meena has said 5 were killed.

Soon after the demolition, The Quint had also reported that the demolition took place despite another hearing yet to take place on 14 February. The locals had also alleged that it was done without any court order.

'Never Before in Haldwani...'

Hadi's family have lived in Haldwani for around 60-70 years since their grandfather's generation.

On being asked if their family had witnessed any such fights or violence before in Haldwani, Javed stated:

"Never before had any such fight or brawl happened between our communities that could lead to such poisoning. Muslims and Hindus always used to meet cordially. It's only recently, since this government came to power here and the Ram mandir ceremony happened, that this hatred and aggressiveness was seen on the ground."

Meanwhile, Hadi's mother and brothers are shaken and fearful as they come to terms with the loss. Still in shock, his mother is not speaking with anyone.

"Since his death, we have taken his mother almost five times to the hospital because she keeps fainting, crying and falling sick," noted Javed.

He continued, "The whole house has turned upside down, to an extent that the eldest brother is very affected, we were scared he is getting severe mental health problems."
Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

Faheem Hadi was only 30 years and worked as a driver in Haldwani.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Bablu, the eldest brother told The Quint that a complaint has been filed with the police and they also sent a letter to Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

  • Letter to CM Pushkar Singh Dhami.

    (Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

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On the other hand, Sonkar, whom the family has accused has yet to be arrested. SP Prahlad Meena, in a press conference he addressed on 11 February, was asked about allegations against Sonkar.

Meena responded, "In this incident and the next day, all the bodies that we have received...their cause of death and in which action they were killed, it is being investigated and only then we'll be able to tell."

Javed said that their family had also to told the police that "Hadi did not die from their bullet but it was because of Sonkar and his mob" while asking for swift action in the case.

Father-Son Duo Shot to Death

The curfew is still imposed in Haldwani, which has deeply impacted the locals' need for groceries and milk for children.

Had it not been for stepping out to get milk for his grandchild, Mohammad Zahid (45) and his son, Mohammad Anas (18) would have been probably been saved or so the family thought.

Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

Mohd Zahid, 45, killed in Haldwani violence.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Zaid was the sole breadwinner of their family, which included his wife, three sons (one is no more) and a daughter. His daughter, along with her baby had come to visit them.

Because of the grave situation outside, Mumtaz Begum had called her son-in-law Zahid to quickly come back home.

Begum locked the house to keep all of the children safe.

"Zahid came and told his wife to ready the biryani and that he will have chutney with it. While talking on a call, he went out, saying that he is going out to get milk because his grandchild would need it and the situation outside might get worse," recalled Begum.

The site of the violence was in Malik ka Bagicha, which is around 1 km away from their place. Begum said their area came into the lap of violence after the police station nearby was set on fire.

"Zahid walked some steps and he got shot. Anas had gone after him to stop him perceiving danger. Some boys picked up Zahid's body to take him to the hospital. Anas couldn't find him there, he walked further and was shot too."
Mumtaz Begum to The Quint
Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

Mohd Anas, 18, killed in Haldwani violence.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

"One of my sons were informed and he went out running and found Anas lying on the ground, shot and writhing in pain, saying, 'Please take me to the hospital, save me pls..' and then he passed out," she continued.

Zahid was shot right in his chest, Anas was shot right below his stomach.

Shortly after, Zahid's eldest son, Aman (22) ran out and was dragging Anas' body towards their home when he saw his father Zahid lying on the ground.

"Aman fell on his father's body, begging and pleading, 'don't beat him, he'll die.' But they said, 'we won't let him go' and kept beating him up. We are not even sure if they were local policemen or people in police's uniform who had come for the demolition," recalled Begum.
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Aman, while speaking to The Quint said, "I picked up my father from the ground and put him on a cart, around 100 policemen were coming from the other side. Out of them 10-15 came to us and beat my father, my driver and I, incessantly."

Zahid used to work in the construction business. Meanwhile Anas had graduated till 9 class but since the pandemic his studies had stopped.

Begum said Zahid's wife, Sabeena has not stopped crying since he died. His wife who had turned to the kitchen to ready the biryani as told by him, now lays devastated.

"She has bawled her eyes out and has become like a corpse. She is depressed and is not even able to talk to any of us. 'Meri duniya ujad gayi, kya karu main ab?' (My life has been destroyed, what am I supposed to do?"
Mumtaz Begum to The Quint

Both, Zahid and Anas were rushed to a local hospital where they declared Zahid dead but said that if Anas gets more blood, he could be saved. They were then taken to Krishna hospital but were declared dead at the spot.

Mohd Zahid had stepped out to buy milk for his grandchild but was shot, beaten to death in Haldwani.

Another local, Mohammad Shabhan who died during the violence in Haldwani.

(Photo: Umar Altaf)

Theirs is a poor family, Begum stated which hopes to get some form of compensation to help the daughter and sons. The family awaits the post-mortem results too.

Begum stated, "The SDM visited our house on 11 February and consoled us, and told us they don't want this to happen to anyone else. We wanted the same for us too. We told him that we only want the culprits to be punished properly."

(The Quint has also reached out to the SDM and Haldwani police. Their response will be added once received. The Quint has also been trying to contact Sonkar. We will update the story when he responds).

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Uttarakhand   Demolition   Haldwani 

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