Riot victim’s kin await charred body claimed a fortnight ago

22-year-old Shehbaz was a welder.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Over a fortnight after he claimed the charred remains of a body, which was just some part of a skull attached to traces of a spine, Mohammad Shehbaz’s brother Matloob still does not know if it belongs to his 22-year-old sibling.

Of eight instances in which the bodies or body parts recovered by them were in such a condition that they could not be visibly identified by their next of kin, Shehbaz’s remains, according to the police, are one of six cases in which DNA testing is required to conclusively ascertain the identity of a riot victim.

Fished out of drain

These remains, Mr. Matloob said, were fished out of from one of the drains in the vicinity of Shiv Vihar – one of the epicentres of violence that ripped across north-east Delhi for three consecutive days late last month – and claimed by him from Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital mortuary four days after he last heard his younger brother’s voice.

“He was a welder by profession and, like most people engaged in the trade, needed routine medical attention to get debris which collected in his eyes during welding and soldering to be removed. He had gone to Guru Nanak Eye Centre for the same at 7 in the morning on Tuesday [February 25],” Mr. Matloob, a resident of Husain Vihar near Karawal Nagar, said.

“I spoke to him around 2 p.m. When the riot broke out, I called him up to tell him to stay safe... He assured that he would take care of himself and said he would take avoid going towards the main road. That is when the call got disconnected. It was the last time I heard his voice,” Mr. Maltoob said.

After unsuccessfully enquiring about Shehbaz’s whereabouts for several hours despite the violence unfolding around him, Mr. Matloob and his family began making the rounds of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital Hospital on February 26.

Like the next of kin of others, who could not identify their missing family members following the riots, Mr. Matloob said he and his family lost all hope.

They accepted the fact that only parts of Shehbaz’s body could be recovered after what he had gone through before allegedly being burnt to death.

“I first went to the hospital on February 26 morning. Then I just set up a camp there. I looked at all the bodies which were mostly recovered in one piece, but did not find my brother,” he said.

“On February 29, on the basis of what looked like the clothes he was wearing when he left the house, I wanted to see the body which those belonged to. I was shown a part of a human skull with some part of the spine attached to it. We claimed it as Shehbaz’s body. My father gave his blood sample for the DNA test, but there is no development since,” he stated.

According to a senior police officer, a DNA test was required for six of the eight bodies which were fished out from separate drains in north-east Delhi.

Five of the DNA reports have matched so far and the bodies have been handed over to their respective family members.

“The family is claiming the body but we want to be doubly sure and don’t want to take any chances. The report, based on blood sample collected from the family, is expected within a day or two. As soon as the report confirms that the body parts belong to Shehbaz, we will hand those over to the family,” Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Eastern Range) said.

A senior police officer associated with the investigation said, “In this [Shehbaz’s] case, we got the family’s sample a bit late. It was sent for examination to a laboratory. We will check the status and, if not completed soon, we will expedite the process and hand over the body to the family at the earliest.”

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 10:10:52 AM |

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