Muslim vegetable vendor lynched to death in Rajasthan’s Beawar

Illustration: Faheem PT/Maktoob

Mohammad Saleem, a 55-year-old vegetable vendor from Beawar, a city in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district was lynched to death by half a dozen Hindu men on the morning of 3 April.

The incident happened the next day after at least 40 shops belonging to Muslims in Rajasthan’s Karauli Colony were attacked, following a Hindu bike rally that turned violent.

Saleem, a resident of Jama Masjid in Bichu Beedi, Beawar, owned a wholesale vegetable shop at the main vegetable market of Mewari Gate in Beawar.

Maktoob accessed the complaint filed by Mohammad Abbas, 30, son of deceased Saleem at Beawar City Police Station. According to the complaint, at 6:30 AM on 3 April, Sunday, Saleem and his son Ibrahim went to the vegetable market and parked their bike in front of their shop. Suraj Marothia backed up his Maruti van and deliberately hit their bike.

Marothia then said to them, “Why are Mullahs (a derogatory word used for Muslims) here at the market. You have no work here. Your status is so low that all Mullahs will get wiped out if we urinate. We’ll stop the entry of Mullahs in the market.” recollected Shahbaz, a neighbour of Mohammad Saleem.

He added, “Suraj Marothia, Shankar Bhati, Dharma Bhati, Jai alias Tony Bhati, Sunil Bhati, Shankar Panwar, Rakesh GRD, were present there and attacked Saleem with iron pipes and wooden sticks. They even hit him with a beam scale and Bata — a weight used to weigh items.

Shahbaz told Maktoob that the assailants are serial offenders. 

Altaf, brother of deceased Saleem said, “Ibrahim and Abbas, sons of Saleem, intervened. They were also attacked.”

Saleem sustained injuries to his head and became unconscious. Shahbaz told Maktoob Media that the assailants dragged an unconscious Saleem, stopped a pickup van and told the driver to take him and throw his body away.

“We took Saleem to Amrit Kaur Hospital in Beawar City. The doctor declared him brought dead. These people murdered Saleem,” Shahbaz added.

After Saleem’s death, people from the Muslim community reached Beawar City Police Station to get a First Information Report lodged in the incident.

An FIR has been registered under sections 147 (Punishment for rioting), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint), 153-A (deals with the offence of promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, etc) and 302 (Punishment for murder) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) against seven accused identified as Suraj Marothia, Shankar Bhati, Dharma Bhati, Jai Bhati, Sunil Bhati, Shankar Pawar and Rakesh.

Sensing the law and order situation, police personnel from three police stations in the area were deployed and local sources allege that section 144 is still imposed in the area.

Speaking to Maktoob, Sanjay, SHO of Beawar City Police Station said, “Two vegetable vendors in the market got into an argument which later turned into a fight resulting in the death of one person. We have registered a case in the matter and have arrested three accused persons and the investigation is going on”.

When inquired regarding the communal statements made by the accused, SHO said that it “has not come up in the investigation”.

“The situation these days is desperate. They have filled the brains of people with hate against Muslims. After the incident, the situation here became tense. However, the leaders of the community urged people for peace and caution. In situations like these, only Muslims suffer.” said a local lawyer, who requested anonymity.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have spiked in the recent weeks in the Congress-ruled state as Hindus celebrate their New Year. at least 40 shops and two-wheelers belonging to Muslims were torched on 02 April in Karauli, when a motorcycle rally organised by Hindu nationalist outfits turned into anti-Muslim violence.

Rajasthan police have imposed prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 across several districts of the state.

Arbab Ali is an independent journalist based in Delhi.