Sodomy-accused UP man arrested 4 months after his arm was ‘chopped off for being a Muslim’
Ikhlaq Salmani was arrested this week, while his family members were detained in UP. His lawyers say police are yet to take action against those who attacked him.
BY ANEESHA BEDI
New Delhi: A 28-year-old man, accused of sodomy, has been arrested from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district, four months after he was “beaten up and his right arm chopped off” allegedly by some men in Haryana’s Panipat after they found out he is a Muslim.
Ikhlaq Salmani was arrested by Panipat Police on 5 January. He was booked on 7 September under Sections 6 and 18 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Three of his brothers and a nephew were also detained this week by Saharanpur police. They are currently lodged at Deodon Jail in UP.
Police said Ikhlaq has been apprehended as they couldn’t have delayed the arrest in a POCSO case for long.
Ikhlaq’s lawyers, however, said police aren’t carrying out a fair investigation as they haven’t yet taken action against those who attacked him in Panipat.
Ikhlaq and his family had alleged in September that he was attacked because he’s Muslim, but Panipat Police had told ThePrint at the time that he was booked in a sodomy case, and that he hurt himself “when he jumped near a railway track”.
Ikhlaq’s family had then rubbished the sodomy charge as a concocted story.
His three brothers and nephew have been detained under Section 151 of CrPC (arrest to prevent commission of cognisable offences).
While those detained under this section are usually released within 24 hours, Ikhlaq’s relatives continue to be in preventive custody for the third day, Arjun Sheron, their lawyer, told ThePrint.
Sheron had filed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 15 December to quash the sodomy FIR, following which a notice was issued, saying that the matter will come up for hearing on 19 January.
According to the petition, a copy of which has been accessed by ThePrint, the sodomy FIR was “in the nature of a cross FIR filed on baseless grounds after a gap of 14 days just to pressurise the petitioner to compromise the matter”.
“While an SIT was formed to investigate the case against Ikhlaq, no real progress has been made in the main FIR filed by Ikhlaq,” Sheron said.
Ikhlaq, a barber by profession, had told police that his arm was chopped off on 24 August in Panipat, where he had gone in search of a job. An FIR in this matter was lodged by his family on 7 September.
According to the FIR, the incident happened around 1.30 am when Ikhlaq was in the Kishanpur area, looking for some water. When he knocked on one of the houses there, four men suddenly attacked him with sticks and bricks, dragged him to a nearby saw machine and chopped his right arm off with a chainsaw. They later dumped him near the railway tracks, the FIR added.
Ikhlaq’s brother, Ikram, alleged the crime was committed after the culprits allegedly spotted the number 786 tattooed on his right arm. 786 is a numeric value that denotes Allah.
“My brother’s hand was cut because 786 was written on his arm,” Ikram had said.
While Panipat Police confirmed the crime, they said Ikhlaq did not mention the tattoo in his complaint.
However, a second FIR was filed on 7 September by the men who allegedly beat up Ikhlaq, alleging that he “sodomised” a young boy in their family on 23 August and he hurt himself when he fell on the nearby railway tracks while he was fleeing.
The Haryana Police had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe both the cases.
No arrest in second FIR yet
Akram Akhtar, Ikhlaq’s local counsel in UP, told ThePrint the police are carrying out an unfair investigation as “they’ve failed to arrest anyone in the other case”.
“Ikhlaq’s wounds were grave and this has impacted his mental health too,” Akhtar said, adding that he keeps mumbling in his sleep, and does not have the ability to stand on his own and requires physical support.
DSP, Satish Kumar, Panipat Police, who has been investigating the case from the beginning and heading the SIT, however, rubbished the claims, saying Ikhlaq’s medical exam was conducted and he is fit.
He also told ThePrint, “We cannot delay arrest in a POCSO case for this long. It has been four months already.”
Asked about the detention of the family members, the DSP said, “We have nothing to do with that, our matter was limited to the arrest of Ikhlaq.”
But sources in the police said that Ikhlaq’s brothers and nephew were detained since they were interfering in Ikhlaq’s arrest when police arrived at their house in Saharanpur, which led to a scuffle between the two parties.
Responding to allegations about the lack of investigation in the other FIR, Kumar said: “We cannot do anything until we receive the DNA report to affirm whether his hand was cut from the railway track or he was attacked.”
The SIT had collected Ikhlaq’s blood samples on 18 September for a DNA test.
“We had collected some blood and tissue from the railway track as well as some stained stones, but we haven’t received the reports yet,” he told ThePrint.
Meanwhile, in Saharanpur, one of Ikhlaq’s relatives, Rizwan, told ThePrint the family had moved a bail application for release of Ikhlaq as well as his brothers.
Courtesy : The Print