The prime accused in the killing of 17-year-old Junaid Khan on a train here last month has “confessed” to having stabbed the victim, a senior police official said on Sunday but insisted that the murder was not related to the beef issue.
The accused, who works as a security guard in a Delhi firm, was arrested from Dhule district of Maharashtra on Saturday, about a fortnight after the June 22 incident. The killing triggered a nationwide outrage as it was reportedly linked to the beef issue.
The 30-year-old main accused, a resident of Palwal in Haryana who was identified by his lawyer as Naresh Kumar, was produced before a court on Sunday. He was sent to a two-day police remand.
Duty magistrate Sandeep Kumar recorded his statement during his production. “During his questioning so far, the main accused has confessed to having stabbed Junaid and attacking his brothers,” Superintendent of Police (Railways) Kamaldeep Goyal said addressing a press conference here.
On claims that Junaid and his brothers were attacked over the issue of beef, Mr. Goyal said, “No such thing has come to the fore during the main accused’s questioning so far.” The SP also added that the complainant had not mentioned beef as the reason for the fight on board the train in which Junaid was killed.
He said the accused had boarded the Mathura-bound train from Shivaji bridge station in Delhi. The fight between the victim and his brothers and the accused in the train started at Okhla railway station in Delhi while the stabbing took place at a station Ballabgarh onwards, the SP said.
Replying to a question, Mr. Goyal said the main fight had started between the victim and another man Rameshwar, who was arrested earlier in the case. He also added that the main accused joined the fight later even though he did not know Rameshwar.
The knife used for killing Junaid has not been recovered so far, he said, adding the accused had told the police that it was in his possession. “His consent will be sought for Test Identification Parade before court,” Goyal said.
“It is an open investigation and only after thorough interrogation of the accused will the complete sequence of events in the case come to fore,” the SP said, replying to a question about sequence of events which led to Junaid’s killing.
“Time limit for this investigation cannot be fixed. Whatever facts we could share have been shared, but in the interest of investigation revealing more facts at this stage will not be appropriate. We will share these facts as and when they become clear,” he added.
When asked about the facts that have emerged with the arrest of five accused earlier, Goyal said the probe is ongoing.
“The main accused has been arrested yesterday only... I am repeating that it is an open investigation, what was the sequence of events, what exactly led to murder of Junaid, will become known after main accused’s interrogation,” he said.
Junaid’s mother, meanwhile, has demanded capital punishment for the main accused. “My son was innocent. I lost him as no one came to his help. While exemplary punishment should be given to all accused involved in the case, I demand that the main accused who stabbed Junaid should be hanged,” she told reporters at her village in Ballabgarh today.
Goyal said it was difficult for them to crack the case as thousands of people travel from Delhi to Mathura daily on the local train.
“Different type of methodologies were adopted by the police department and it is culmination of all those continuous efforts by the police. Which technique exactly led to the arrest of this accused, I am not going to reveal, but a lot of aspects of investigation were touched by police..,” he said.
When asked where the main accused was hiding, Goyal said, “He spent a few days at his home. He went to Mathura and Vrindavan and later through a relative he worked at some unit in Dhule for a few days.”
When asked if anymore accused were yet to be arrested in the case, the SP said, “During the main accused’s interrogation this should become clear.”
He also said that statement of other arrested accused in the case has been recorded.
The SP said steps were being taken to strengthen security on trains, including having CCTV cameras, for which we have written to the Railway Ministry.
He said the Government Railway Police (GRP) was also trying to have a databank of daily commuters from Faridabad and Palwal.
“Often many things come to fore like some of these daily passengers occupy seats of others, play cards, sit in rail coaches meant for women etc. So, we will try to make them aware..,” he said.
A statement released by the GRP on Saturday had said that a team was sent to Dhule following a tip-off that the accused was hiding there. The GRP claimed in the statement that during interrogation, the accused had “confessed” to having killed Junaid.
The police had earlier arrested five persons, including a Delhi government employee.
Junaid was stabbed to death when he, along with his brothers, was returning home to Khandawli village after shopping for Eid in Delhi. His body was dumped close to Asaoti village in Faridabad district. His brothers, Hashim and Sakir, were injured by a mob which also allegedly hurled communal slurs against them.
His brothers had claimed the attackers had taunted and repeatedly called them “anti-nationals” and “beef eaters”. A reward of ₹2 lakh had also been announced for information on identity of those involved in the killing.