Sunder Nagri murder: give us justice, keep communal politics aside, say victim’s kin

Police are ‘closely examining’ speeches made by BJP leaders at Sunday’s event, which was held to protest the incident; musn’t defame an entire community: victim’s mother; won’t let situation deteriorate again, say residents of neighbouring Shiv Vihar, epicentre of 2020 communal riots

October 12, 2022 01:47 am | Updated 01:47 am IST - NEW DELHI:

A road in Shiv Vihar (above), close to Sunder Nagri, where Manish Sharma was murdered on October 1.

A road in Shiv Vihar (above), close to Sunder Nagri, where Manish Sharma was murdered on October 1. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

An uneasy calm prevails over north-east Delhi’s Sunder Nagri following an event organised on Sunday by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and others to protest the murder of 19-year-old Manish Sharma.

Following Manish’s brutal murder — he was stabbed nearly 20 times in broad daylight on October 1 close to his home in Sunder Nagri — the police arrested six people — Sajid, Aalam, Bilal, Faizan, Mohsin and Shakir — while ruling out any communal angle to the crime.

However, in Sunday’s event, held in Dilshad Garden, around six km from Sunder Nagri, calls for “total boycott” of people from a community were allegedly made.

Many residents, including the family of the victim, object to the “communal colour” being given to the murder. Several others are anxious about the threat to the law and orde in the area, given how a similar sequence of events unfolded barely six km from here in Shiv Vihar in February 2020, which led to communal riots in which 53 were killed.

‘Keep politics aside’

“We musn’t defame an entire community if one of its members commits a crime. The focus should be on removing those bad elements,” says Mithelesh Sharma, the mother of the victim.

She adds that Hindus and Muslims have been living in the area peacefully.

“We know some speeches were made, but our focus right now is to seek justice for Manish. Nothing else. Communal politics should be kept aside. This is about a man who was murdered in broad daylight while the bystanders watched. There is a question about our safety,” says Malti Sharma, the deceased’s sister.

Manish’s family says they have been living in fear of the alleged murderers for the past one-and-a-half years.

Ms. Malti says two of the accused, Shakir and Mohsin, had stabbed Manish last year, following some altercation.

“We filed an FIR against them and the two were jailed. But the other members of their group threatened us to withdraw the case. We didn’t budge and then they killed my brother,” adds the deceased’s sister.

Sources say the police are “closely examining” the alleged hate speeches delivered during the event, adding that an FIR has already been lodged against the VHP and other organisers of the event.

“While the investigation is under way, no FIR has been registered against the alleged hate speeches made by [BJP MP] Parvesh Verma and [BJP MLA] Nand Kishore Gujjar. After ascertaining the reports, more sections will be added. This is not the final FIR,” a senior police officer said.

Fraying relations

The palpable tension in the area since the Sunday event is already taking a toll on personal relationships. Maya, 45, and Amna, 47, two close friends from different faiths, say their families have been advising them to not be seen with each other.

“We know an old enmity is being given a communal colour by some leaders for their own benefit. But what about our lives? We can’t leave this place and go elsewhere,” Maya says, as her friend Amna nods.

Another resident of Sunder Nagri, Sohail, 24, who works at a small eatery, says nobody should be allowed to take the law into their hands.

“I understand if anybody feels unsafe in this area now. The murder was gruesome. But why allow netas to call for such extreme steps?” Sohail says.

Riots epicentre

Six km from where Manish was murdered, lies Shiv Vihar, the epicentre of north-east Delhi riots. Two years since the violence unfolded here, the residents are still struggling to overcome the trauma. The alleged hate speeches made at the VHP event have made people nervous all over again.

Raheesh Ahmad, 52, a resident of Jagdamba Colony, says the speeches made at the VHP event have brought back some bad memories.

“I remember when those speeches delivered before the riots, went viral. We didn’t give too much importance to those voices then. But little did we know that soon after, we would wake up to death knocking at our door,” Mr. Ahmad said.

Jyoti Singh, 40, another Shiv Vihar resident, who saw Verma’s purported on social media, says, “For those who haven’t lived through riots, making such hate speeches is easy. How can they ask us to boycott an entire community when we have lived with them in peace for many years?”

Two years have passed since the riots unfolded in her locality. She doesn’t know if things will go back to normal now. “We don’t know if we will be able to live as we did before the riots. But we cannot let the situation deteriorate again,” she said.

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