Ashbab, who witnessed the killing of his two brothers during the Muzzafarnagar riots was shot dead just two weeks before he was to appear for the next hearing in the ongoing trial.
MUZAFFARNAGAR — A 35-year-old milk vendor, a key witness to the murder of his two brothers during the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, was shot dead in Khatoli village just two weeks before he was to appear for the next hearing in the ongoing trial.
The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining areas in August and September 2013 had claimed more than 62 lives while over 50,000 people were displaced.
According to reports, Ashbab was attacked on Monday evening. Ashbab was returning from his work to home when 5-6 people came and allegedly opened incriminate fire. He was hit by at least five bullets and died on the spot.
He was buried on Tuesday after the post-mortem examination.
The victim was the resident of Khatoli village. The incident had happened just a few meters away from a police station but the police did not arrest any of the accused persons in time.
However, the family suspects that since they have levelled allegations against the person who allegedly killed his two brothers – Nawab and Shahid – during the riots, this crime was committed. Both of them were working as milk vendors as well.
Ashbab’s lawyer Nasir Ali told TOI that his client was getting threats and had even complained to Police in February.
“All the six accused are out on bail now. Ashbab was the key witness in the case, and its next hearing is on March 25. He was being constantly pressured to reach a compromise. Fearing that he would be killed, Ashbab had even approached police in February and filed a complaint,” Ali said.
Ashbab’s father Akhtar, 65, said: “We have no enmity with anyone. I suspect that this murder is connected to ongoing trial. They killed my two sons and wanted to compromise. Ashbab never agreed to it.”
He further informed: “We used to live in Kheri Tagaan village near Mansoorpur town of Muzaffarnagar. We fled after the riots, leaving everything behind. During the riots, two of my sons — Nawab and Shaheed — were murdered and Ashbab was a witness to that. He was under constant threat,” reports The Times of India.
All the six accused were freed on bail during the trial.
A case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against unidentified people, informed Khatauli SHO.
(With inputs from TOI)