Delhi’s Sunder Nagri locals bear brunt of gruesome murder, religious hate speech

The stabbing of a Hindu youth had BJP MP Parvesh Verma call for a boycott of Muslims; locals believe the murder was due to a disagreement between friends and had no religious links

"The accused were in an inebriated state, thereby leaving little room for negotiation. It was gruesome," a local said recalling the incident. Image: iStock

A murder in the capital that triggered communal speeches was, in fact, due to a disagreement between friends and had no religious links, according to the locals.

A youth named Manish was stabbed to death on October 1 in north-east Delhi’s Sunder Nagri locality. Apart from the shockwaves it sent, provocative speeches by politicians further vitiated the environment. BJP MP from West Delhi constituency Parvesh Singh Verma on Sunday called for boycotting Muslims during the ‘Aakrosh Sabha’ organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

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“A murder is a murder. People must condemn the act and try not to give it a communal colour,” said Mehruddin, who owns a food outlet in Sunder Nagri. “Normalcy has partially returned due to the heavy deployment of CRPF personnel and now we are trying to get over the incident,” added the 62-year-old Mehruddin.

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Altercation among partners

Syed Khan, owner of a bakery shop in the area, said the people who are accused in the murder were actually Manish’s friends.

“As far as we know, these boys, including Manish, were involved in an illegal mobile phone business which they acquired through snatching and other nefarious means. Manish apparently sold a few phones without informing the group and that was the trigger for the altercation that eventually resulted in Manish’s death,” explained Khan.

“The accused were in an inebriated state, thereby leaving little room for negotiation. It was gruesome,” he added, recalling the incident.

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Manish and his friends have not been on the best of terms since last year. Last year, Manish filed a complaint regarding a stabbing case after two boys stabbed him. His neck and abdomen had stab wounds. Police booked the two under attempted murder and sent them to jail. After the arrest, the rivalry began. Manish was asked to take back the complaint several times, but he refused.

Why didn’t the public act?

The incident took place in full public view. People watched the brutal murder from afar even as the three youths kept knifing their victim, said Syed.

“The people could have easily saved Manish if they had acted in time or intervened during the stabbing. As my shop was slightly far from the murder site, by the time I rushed in, Manish was bleeding profusely,” he recalled angrily.

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“Although the incident was purely a fallout of an old rivalry and the heated exchange of words that ensued on October 1, political leaders are trying to give it a communal colour. They have been making inflammatory comments and are trying to paint the entire Muslim community in a bad light,” said the young businessman. 

“This will not only have long-term ramifications but has made our lives more difficult with strong police deployment in the area. As you can see, the  police has placed yellow barricades, and there is always a strict vigil by the security personnel. Although it is intended to ensure harmony and prevent untoward incidents, the residents are bearing the brunt.”

Speaking to The Federal, security forces deployed in the area said the situation has improved now.

“We have been camping here since October 2 and did not allow any untoward incident. We will remain here until the return of complete normalcy,” said one of the security personnel who did not wish to be named.

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The other day, three motorbikes were stolen, and residents had to park their bikes on the main road, as there was heavy barricading post-October 1. Most residents are from the marginalised section and have had to incur heavy losses. Will the authorities compensate for such inconveniences, asked Syed.

Family’s version

Manish’s family alleged the accused had been harassing them for over a year over an old case.”They wanted Manish to withdraw the case because the people who were jailed were their friends. But Manish refused,” said a relative of Manish.

Contrary to the claims of other shopkeepers who were privy to the incident, Manish’s family maintained that on October 1, he was returning from a friend’s wedding when three men stabbed him over 20 times, killing him. The Delhi police immediately arrested six men in connection with the case.

Ram Singh, a resident of Sunder Nagri, said that theft and substance abuse are common after dark in the neighbourhood.

“The entire area is bearing the brunt of issues like unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. It becomes very unsafe to move around after dark. Now, with the heavy CRPF deployment, we at least feel safe. But this is not a long-term solution, the government needs to address this problem once and for all,” said a worried Singh.

“We are old, and we don’t have the strength to fight with these elements,” Singh, who is a native of Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, added.

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