By Anand Mohan J

The Delhi Police told a Delhi court that a 22-year-old man, killed by a mob during the Northeast Delhi riots, was first assaulted after establishing his Muslim identity, and after he fell unconscious, the mob set him on fire to check if he had “actually really died or was just trying to feign unconsciousness”. However, when the victim, Shahbaz, started moving, rioters “put wood pieces on him, poured some petrol and burnt him alive”, police told the court.

These details surrounding Shahbaz’s death were submitted by police in court during the bail hearing of Rahul Sharma (24), an accused in the murder. Police have so far only found a piece of skull and some pelvic bones, which Shahbaz’s family claim belong to him. Police told the court only a DNA test can establish his identity. Rahul’s bail was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav Wednesday. Police have so far arrested five persons in the case.

As per court records, around 7 am on February 25, Shahbaz left home to visit GTB hospital to fetch medicines for his eyes. Around 2.25 pm, his brother Matloob Ahmad called Shahbaz, who told him that he was at Karawal Nagar and trying to reach home through the inner lanes. Matloob tried contacting his brother again, but the calls went unanswered. On February 27, while Matloob was searching for his brother, he was informed by a person that Shahbaz had been burnt to death by a mob.

Police told the court that after identifying that Shahbaz was a Muslim, a mob assaulted him. “He tried to escape by jumping over the wall and running into the water near the bushes towards PTS Wazirabad. He (Sharma) and other rioters chased Shahbaz… The rioters caught him again and beat him mercilessly. The riotous mob dragged Shahbaz to the main Pusta Road. Aman and Mohit robbed Shahbaz’s wrist watch. Soon he fell unconscious. Someone among the rioters proposed that it must be checked if Shahbaz had really died or was just trying to feign unconsciousness. Some rioters brought some dry bushes and put them on Shahbaz’s face.

Another rioter poured some petrol on the bushes and someone lit a fire with a matchstick. Shahbaz was still alive and started moving. The rioters then broke some rehris (carts) parked on the roadside, put the wood pieces on Shahbaz, poured some more petrol and burnt Shahbaz alive,” police told the court.

Police told the court they relied on manual identification and dump data analysis to investigate the case. Police tracked down the person who first informed Matloob about Shahbaz’s death. This person, now a prosecution witness, was questioned by police and he disclosed that Aman and Mohit, the co-accused, had revealed they “had killed and burnt the body of one Shahbaz, who was doing the job of welding in their area”.

Police told the court that Aman had confessed that on February 25, “he in conspiracy with his friend Mohit had caused harm to the life and property of persons belonging to a particular community to teach them a lesson… On that day,…he along with his friend Mohit and other rioters assaulted, robbed and killed Shahbaz and thereafter burnt him alive…”
Rahul’s legal team denied the police allegations.

This story appeared in ‘The Indian Express’ here