‘He used to call me Mama... I wanted to meet him once, ask why he killed my son’
“I DON’T know what happened to him that day. I wanted to meet him just once and ask him what drove him to kill my son so brutally,” says a distraught Abdul Sayeed of his neighbour Shiva Patil. “He used to call me Mama. My son never fought with him. The two families had never quarreled before.”
Sayeed, in his early 50s, says he saw his son Abdul Salman, 26, being held by the neck and dragged away by a man at the steering wheel of an Innova around 1 am on Sunday. The car drove for about 200 m when Salman fell to the ground after his head hit a tanker.
The driver allegedly reversed the old SUV and ran over Salman, who later died at a hospital, the father told the police. The brutality that he attributes to Shiva Patil left him perplexed because, he said, the Patils — Shiva, his mother Sunita and sister Aarti - and his family, who live in adjacent shanties in Shantinagar Slum near Habibganj Jain temple, had no previous enmity.
Nearly half a dozen cases of extortion and physical assault are registered against Patil, 21, who identified himself as district chief of Hindu Rashtriya Sena, in the records of M P Nagar Police Station in Bhopal. Sayeed alleged that his young neighbor asked for money from his son Salman once or twice but did not press for it once he refused.
Besides Shiva, at least three other persons were allegedly in the Innova: his brother Bharat, their brother-in-law Rocky and a friend, Chhotu. The vehicle is registered in Sunita’s name at the address Zuggi No 21, Shantinagar Zugiya, Shivajinagar.
Shiva threw his weight around in the locality and had painted the names of the Hindu outfit and office-bearers on some walls. His car bore his designation but the nameplate was removed after it was seized when he and Rocky were arrested Sunday.
Bharat, who lives in Shahpura, used to be a Bajrang Dal activist. “He was sacked because of his dubious activities,” said Bajrang Dal leader Kamlesh Thakur. When told that the locals in Shantinagar say he regularly visits the slums, Thakur conceded he was in touch with Shiva Patil but claimed the latter’s outfit had no standing and was like one that is found in “every galli kucha”.
The day after his arrest, Shiva claimed he had assaulted Salman because he had suspected Salman had scribbled objectionable words about his sister on the car. Sayeed claimed Salman may have attended school but could not even write his name properly, leave alone scribble something on a car.
“They first accused me of scratching and writing on the car and hit me on the head with a sword,” says Salman’s youngest brother Soheb. “But when they realised I never went to school, they held Salman responsible for the scribble.”
Sayeed’s family had rented the shanty in January. They used to live in another shanty a few feet away, but moved because it was too small to accommodate a new member of the family — Salman would have married at the end of the month at a mass nikaah programme funded by the state government.
Salman and his father used to take turns at driving their two loading vehicles. They parked their vehicles at night at a lot opposite Sargam Talkies in M P Nagar, the same place where Shiva too occasionally parked his vehicle.
The fight that apparently led to the brutal murder of Salman began in this parking lot, a few hundred metres from the shanties. Shiva and his men allegedly damaged several vehicles, including one owned by Salman, in a fit of rage. When Sayeed ran to the parking lot to check the damage to the loading vehicle, the attackers drove in their Innova towards the shanties using another road, the family alleged.
“Before I returned, they had mercilessly beaten up Sohail. And when Salman tried to intervene, they thrashed him, dragged him and eventually killed him. I still don’t know what the provocation was,” says the father. He says he too sustained injuries when he tried to stop the Innova but “did not complain about it because my two sons were fighting for their lives”.
Sanjay Singh Bais, in-charge of MP Nagar police station, said the accused has admitted objectionable words on his vehicle drove him to the murder. He said the police are looking for Bharat and Chhotu at their possible hideouts. He said four or five cases were registered against Shiva in his police station.
When Salman’s body was brought after postmortem, tension had gripped Shantinagar. The police took Shiva’s mother and sister away. Neighbours alleged that Sunita and her daughter often picked fights with them but they were too scared of Shiva to approach police.
Sayeed said the police did not allow him to meet Shiva at the police station the day after his arrest. He alleged that Shiva was nonchalant and boasted that “roz ka kaam hai, kya kar loge, ham to bahar ho jayenge (it’s a daily affair, you won’t be able to harm us, we will come out soon).”
Sayeed alleged that on Wednesday, he saw the police allowing Shiva’s mother and sister free access to him.
Abdul Sayeed with his sons Soheb and Sohail (head bandaged); son Salman was murdered, allegedly by their neighbour.