A Muslim man’s decapitated body was found on the railway track in Khanapur of Belagavi on September 28. It is being suspected that the man was allegedly murdered over an interfaith relationship.
It has been six days since Arbaaz Aftab Mulla’s body was found, but the police are yet to make any headway in the case. The Railway Police, under whose jurisdiction the body was found, had summoned around twenty people including the Hindu girl with whom the victim allegedly had a relationship, but no arrests have been made so far in the case.
After the initial investigation, the Railway Police suspect that it might be a case of murder and are in the process of transferring the case to Khanapur police. An FIR has been registered under IPC sections 302 and 201 among others.
When News9 contacted Belagavi SP Laxman Nimbargi, he said that “the case is yet to be officially transferred” and refused to comment further on the matter.
Several Muslim organisations on Monday staged protests in Belagavi demanding the police to arrest the guilty and prosecute them. The protesters have given a deadline till Wednesday to act on the culprits and threatened a mass agitation in the district on Friday if the culprits are not brought to book.
Mother demands #JusticeForArbaaz
Arbaaz was a resident of Khanapur and had a resale car business. He was in love with a Hindu girl who used to stay in the same locality for the past two years.
Speaking with News9, Arbaaz’s mother Najeema, who is a government school teacher, said she found out that her son was in love with a Hindu girl and informed the girl’s mother about it to avoid any tension between the two families.
“They were in a relationship for at least two years. She used to visit our residence in Khanapur daily. I spoke to the girl’s mother and explained that this marriage is not possible because we belong to different religions. When my son got to know about this he shouted at me and said that theirs was a secret love affair and that her mother had connections with Sri Ram sene,” Najeema said.
Najeema further said that soon after this, Arbaaz started getting threat calls to stay away from the girl.
“A person called Pundalik Maharaj used to call and threaten Arbaaz often. They used to say that if he did not meet them they (a group of five members of the Sene) would have to come there and if that happened the consequence would be dire,” she added.
Najeema claims, she along with her son Arbaaz shifted from Khanapur to Belagavi a few months back. She added that despite the threats, the couple found ways to meet and continued their relationship.
On September 26, Najeema said that a man named Pundalik Maharaj and his associate Birje called Arbaaz and asked him to meet at a place in Khanapur. Worried about her son’s safety, Najeema accompanied him.
“They told us that if your son doesn’t delete the messages we won’t hesitate to do anything. We deleted all the messages and pictures and I smashed the sim card in front of them. At the same time, the girl was repeatedly calling him and demanded money. First, she said give me Rs 17,000 and then asked for Rs 7,000. My son had spent a lot of money on her and finally, we came to a compromise to pay her Rs 7,000,” she said, holding back tears.
On September 28, when Najeema was in Goa for some personal work, she received a call from her son saying he was scared for his life. She then immediately left for Belagavi. By the time she reached her house, the police informed her that her son’s body was found on the railway track.
Arbaaz’s cousin Sameer, in a video uploaded on social media, said that Arbaaz left home at 5 pm and by 8 pm he was found dead on the railway track. Speaking with News9, Mulla’s cousin, Rehaan said that the Railway police have seized an ambulance that was spotted close to the crime scene.
In the police complaint, Najeema has alleged that she suspected that her son was murdered by the girl’s family and the members of the Sene.
Speaking with News9, Najeema alleged that Sri Ram Sene members Pundalik Maharaj and Birje killed her son. At least three people have been named in the FIR.
“There is no question of doubt or suspicion, Pundalik Maharaj said he will throw acid on him if he doesn’t back down. With folded hands, I asked him to forgive us. But still, they murdered my son. There is no question of anyone else’s involvement. Maharaj, Birje, and her parents are responsible for his death.”
Who is Pundalik Maharaj and Birje?
Pundalik Maharaj and Birje are said to be members of Sri Rama Sene Hindustan, an offshoot of Pramod Muthalik’s Sri Ram Sene.
Speaking with News9, the chief of the Hindutva outfit distanced himself from the incident stating that he had never heard of nor had any connection with Pundalik Maharaj.
“It’s been two years since this splinter group emerged, but we do not have any association with Sri Ram Sene Hindustan. I don’t know any members of the group, nor do I know where all they have set up their camps,” he clarified
Protests and politics
Speaking to the media, Congress Khanapur MLA Anjali Nimbalkar demanded a fair investigation in the case from the Home Minister and appealed for peace.
“I request members of all religious organisations to maintain peace and not resort to protests. Let’s believe in the police and the judiciary. The police have asked for two days to complete the investigation and get to the bottom of the case.”
However, several Muslim organisations including AIMIM have started a campaign on social media #JusticeForArbaaz. Latif Khan Pathan, the general secretary of AIMIM said that they are planning to invite Asaduddin Owaisi, the President of the organisation to join the protest.
The Khanapur police are waiting for the case to be transferred to them before starting their probe in the case.