New Delhi— In the wake of a devastating incident that unfolded in sunder Nagri, part of the Nand Nagari area in New Delhi, the brutal beating and tragic demise of 22-year-old Mohammed Ishaq at the hands of a mob comprised of purported Hindu youths have left the local community in shock and raised numerous troubling questions. Rukhsar (25), a neighbor residing just opposite Ishaq's home, expressed her incredulity, stating, "Can anyone's life be taken so mercilessly over a simple act like partaking in prasad?"
Nand Nagari, a prominent locality within New Delhi, serves as the administrative hub for both the North East Delhi district and Shahdara district. The harrowing incident occurred on the night of September 26th, when Ishaq, a resident of the sunder Nagri district under Nand Nagari police station's jurisdiction, was bound to a pillar and subjected to a merciless beating with a large stick by a group of purported Hindu youths. The reason behind this brutal assault was his consumption of a banana kept as Prasad near the Ganesh idol at the Ganpati Mahotsav pandal.
Tragically, Ishaq succumbed to his injuries the following morning, leaving the entire community in mourning. Shockingly, video footage capturing this gruesome act has since gone viral across social media platforms, depicting the heart-wrenching scene of a crowd of young men restraining Ishaq and relentlessly assaulting him as he cried out in agonizing pain.
The Ishaq family's living conditions are modest, residing in a one-room dwelling within the tightly-knit sunder Nagari neighborhood, adjacent to the local graveyard situated at 205 Puliya. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the family now consists of four grieving sisters – Imrana (28), Miyab (23), Samreen (18), Huma (15) – and their father, Abdul Wazid (60). The family's financial struggles have been compounded by this devastating loss, and they are now left pleading for justice to be served for their beloved son and brother, Mohammed Ishaq.
Upon reaching Ishaq's residence, local residents shared that Ishaq had been struggling with mental health issues. Rukhsar, a neighbor from the vicinity, disclosed that Ishaq's mother had passed away approximately a decade ago, leaving the family to navigate life's challenges without her support. Ishaq's father, who runs a fruit stall and occasionally takes up labourer jobs, found himself in a precarious financial situation.
Rukhsar expressed her dismay at the tragic outcome over the consumption of prasad, remarking, "To think that someone could lose their life over a portion of temple-offered banana prasad is truly disheartening. The accused individuals should have simply handed Ishaq over to the police." She lamented the fact that the neighbourhood had remained unaware of the incident until the morning, when concerned neighbours discovered Ishaq in an unconscious state. Tragically, he passed away while still unconscious.
Rukhsar also shed light on Ishaq's mental health, emphasizing that despite his struggles, he had never caused trouble for anyone. She recounted, "If someone offered him five rupees, he would diligently dispose of their trash. For ten rupees, he would assist construction workers in clearing debris. This was how he spent his days. Even when someone mistreated him, he rarely uttered a word in protest," Rukhsar revealed to The Mooknayak.
Inside their modest one-room dwelling, Ishaq's sisters sat in mourning, grappling with the profound loss of their beloved brother. Following the incident, numerous journalists began visiting the house, seeking answers and insight into the tragic event. Ishaq's elder sister, Imrana, with tears in her eyes, conveyed to The Mooknayak, "Since morning, my voice has grown hoarse from discussing my brother's untimely death."
Imrana, struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that befell her brother, expressed her profound grief and the family's strong desire for justice. She recounted the heartbreaking events, saying, "A terrible thing happened to my brother. At around 4-5 in the morning, I learned that this had occurred to him. Hindu boys from the market have assaulted him. We are seeking justice. Those responsible for the killing must face the consequences." Imrana emphasized that Ishaq was their only brother among the sisters and occasionally worked as a carpenter, while their father earned a living by selling goods from a cart.
Other members of the media who visited Ishaq's home inquired about the family's bank details, aiming to offer assistance. However, it was revealed that none of the family members had a bank account. Additionally, due to their challenging circumstances, none of the sisters had received an education, as Ishaq's father was the sole breadwinner in the family.
Abdul Wazid, Ishaq's father, shared his account of the events that unfolded on that fateful morning. He recounted, "At around 4 in the morning, a young boy passing by found Ishaq lying injured. Ishaq called out to the boy, saying, 'I have been beaten severely, load me onto a rickshaw and take me home.' The compassionate boy did as Ishaq asked, bringing him back home. Along the way, some other people joined in, and they collectively placed Ishaq at my doorstep. I had been out with my cart and returned home to the distressing news."
As the gravity of the situation became apparent, Abdul Wazid arrived home at 6:30 in the morning, only to discover the lifeless body of his son. He expressed his anguish over the incident, stating, "They assaulted him because a Muslim child had touched the prasad offered to the Ganesha idol. People mistook him for a thief. He was bound to a pillar and mercilessly beaten by a group of 15-20 individuals," as he recounted to The Mooknayak.
The brutality inflicted upon Ishaq was nothing short of horrific, rendering him unable to even rise to his feet. Abdul Wazid, revealed the grim details, explaining, "People subjected him to such relentless violence that he could not stand up. Someone among the accused seemed to dictate how much harm should befall him. Only then was Ishaq released from the pillar. His body bore visible signs of injury, with wounds on his hands and back. His nails had been brutally removed, all over a simple act of consuming prasad."
Wazid continued his harrowing account, recounting the actions he took after discovering his son's condition. "I dialed 100 to summon the police," he said, "and they arrived promptly. Subsequently, several police officers arrived at the scene. They removed Ishaq's clothing and bore witness to the severity of his injuries. Following this examination, the police took his body for post-mortem."
With a heavy heart, Wazid named the individuals he believed to be responsible for his son's tragic demise – Manoj, Sonu, Monu and Hrithik.
Wazid went on to express his family's inclusive beliefs, emphasizing that, despite being Muslim, they embraced prasad offered by Hindus with the same reverence, viewing it as a form of divine offering. He lamented the unjust nature of his son's death, remarking, "My son lost his life merely for partaking prasad. This is fundamentally wrong." He also shared the financial hardships that further burdened his family, mentioning, "I have very little money. My livelihood depends on a fruit cart that I operate, worth Rs 11,000, but if I were to sell it now, I'd likely get only Rs 3-4 thousand."
Wazid provided insight into his background, disclosing that he originally hailed from Rampur tehsil in the Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh. He had resided in the vibrant city for two decades, supporting his family by selling fruits from his cart. He regretfully noted that his limited income made it challenging to afford education for his daughters.
Israr (50), a local resident who attended Ishaq's funeral, raised poignant questions about the tragedy that befell the young man. He expressed his anguish, saying, "Ishaq's body was laid to rest at 3 o'clock. While showing Ishaq's face to the relatives, they noticed injury marks on his legs and wounds on his back. His mouth was gaping wide open. What did anyone gain by taking the life of a poor labourer's son?"
The Mooknayak team also visited the cemetery where Ishaq was laid to rest. Nadeem (45), another local resident present near the grave, described the incident as profoundly painful for the Muslim community. He pointed out that Ishaq's mental condition was not stable, and he likely did not comprehend the significance of consuming prasad. Nadeem expressed sorrow over the divisive atmosphere that has poisoned relations between Hindus and Muslims in recent times, stating, "How could someone beat a Muslim so severely for touching prasad that it resulted in his death?" He went on to emphasize that if Ishaq had made any mistake, he should have been handed over to the police rather than subjected to such brutality.
The Mooknayak team also sought information about the legal actions taken in the case from the Nand Nagari police station. However, we were directed to "talk to Rizwan sir" for further details. Despite waiting for half an hour at the police station, Officer Rizwan did not make an appearance. His office was open, but the chair remained empty. When the team requested a police officer's mobile number for contact, they were told that "he would be arriving soon."
Another police officer, Virendra Singh, who entered the room of a senior officer at the police station, inquired about the reason for their visit. The team requested information regarding the incident, to which the officer responded, "Ask the senior officer!! We are investigating the matter and cannot disclose details."
Efforts to contact the DCP, North East, via a CUG number were unsuccessful as the phone was switched off. Additionally, attempts to reach the Additional DCP I, North East, were met with a request to speak with the police officer responsible for providing information to the press, but his phone was also switched off.
Story Translated by Geetha Sunil Pillai