The gruesome incident happened on July 31, in Jaipur-Mumbai Superfast, near Palghar railway station in Maharashtra.
Chetan Singh has been charged with multiple offenses in connection with a tragic incident that occurred on July 31 near Palghar railway station in Maharashtra. The charges against Singh include murder under IPC Section 302, IPC Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups based on religion, race, place of birth, and residence), as well as parts of the Arms Act and Railways Act. The incident resulted in the deaths of his superior, Assistant Sub-Inspector Tikaram Meena, and three passengers – Abdul Kadar Mohamed Hussain Bhanpurawala, Syed Saifuddin, and Asgar Abbas Sheikh.
Singh allegedly fired his automatic service weapon, killing Assistant Sub-Inspector Tikaram Meena and passenger Abdul Kadar in coach B5. He proceeded to coach B1, where he shot and killed Syed Saifuddin, before moving on to S1 and killing Asgar Abbas Sheikh.
It has been noted that Singh targeted individuals who were visibly identifiable as Muslims, as they sported beards and wore traditional attire, including skullcaps and Kurta-Pyjama.
In a video shared on social media, the constable, Chetan Singh, can be heard hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath as the body of one of the Muslim men lies at his feet.
“They operate from Pakistan, this is what the media of the country is showing,” Singh is heard telling passengers in the video. “If you want to vote, if you want to live in India, then I say, Modi and Yogi, these are the two, and you’re Thackeray.”
According to the family members of the victim, Sharma had asked about religion before shooting the victims. Sharma mocked Muslims and Hailed Modi and Yogi.
Police yet to add communal hatred as a motive in the chargesheet
As of now charges of kidnapping and promoting have been added to the chargesheet. Case is being tried in a local court in Borivali.
The Government Railway Police (GRP), which investigates the case, told a local court in Borivali last week that it has invoked additional IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity), 363 (kidnapping), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement).
He has also been booked under booked under IPC Section 302 (murder) and sections of the Arms Act and Railways Act.
According to police report in court they are yet to verify the video.
It also withdrew confusing statement about the mental health of the accused. It is worth noting that various reports initially attributed the incident to the accused’s mental health, suggesting that he was suffering from anxiety and acted in a fit of rage. These reports were criticized for potentially downplaying the communal angle and the broader issue of Islamophobia in the country.
According to Hussain Bhanpurwala, 36, son of Abdul Kadir Bhanpurwala, who was among the four allegedly shot dead by RPF constable Chetan Singh, says that GRP officials have still not disclosed the intention of the accused RPF man behind the crime, reported Indian Express.
While charges related to kidnapping and promoting enmity have been added to the chargesheet, the explicit motive of communal hatred has not yet been confirmed by the police, raising questions about the thoroughness of the investigation.
Muslims fearful of public transport
After the hate incident, Muslims across the county are bit anxious in travelling in the public transport. Muslims with visible religious identity are aware of travelling alone in public transport.
According to reports in The Scroll, this will restrict the mobility of aspiring generation who come out of shackles of backwardness. The brazen insecurity will further drive the community inwards, according to the report.
After the incident, Muslim registered their angst in the social media. The absence of confidence boosting gestures from the central and state governments have validated their fears of targeted attacks in public transport, especially in trains and buses.
Dr Aqsa Shaikh, an associate professor of community medicine in Hamdard Institute, Delhi took to Twitter to post on Tuesday: “As a Muslim woman who dons dupatta on her head and looks Muslim, I feel unsafe travelling in trains”.
As a Muslim woman who dons Dupatta on her head and looks Muslim, I feel unsafe travelling in Trains, let alone eating meat or offering my prayers in silence without disturbing anyone.
Don’t tell me again that India is the safest country for Muslims or Women. pic.twitter.com/JqyaiI1kZ0
— Dr. Aqsa Shaikh (@doctorsaheba) August 1, 2023
The incident has led to concerns among Muslims about their safety while using public transport, particularly those who exhibit overt symbols of their religion. This fear has been exacerbated by the lack of confidence-boosting measures from the government. Social media has been used by Muslims to express their anxiety, with some indicating that they now avoid public transportation due to perceived vulnerabilities.
Sheikh, for example, said she has already begun to avoid trains and buses. “My family and I have also stopped carrying non-vegetarian meals when we travel,” she added as reported by The Scroll.
While Shaikh prefers to travel in her car or take a flight for inter-city travel, she pointed out that not every Muslim can afford it. “It will restrict the mobility of Muslim women, curb employment opportunities for Muslim men,” she said.
Sounding caution, Sarah Hashmi, wrote the same in The Quint. According to her such incidents will dent dwindling confidence among the community and will further help communal polarization.
“My first thought after reading the news was this could have been my father. After all, he has an obvious white beard that he sports and will never part with, not for religious reasons but because that’s part of his appearance and has been since the past 35 odd years. The immediate response was to call my mother, and the decision to not let Abbu go on long train journeys was taken. It didn’t need a discussion, or his opinion. It was a done deal. Things like these no longer needed discussions” she wrote.
Overall, the incident has highlighted concerns about the safety of Muslims in public spaces, the need for unbiased investigations, and the importance of political leaders addressing communal tensions to ensure societal harmony.
Lack of political outrage
Despite the ongoing investigation and submission of an FIR, there has been a lack of significant political response to the incident. The silence from certain political leaders is alarming and underscores the potential risks posed by communal tensions within society.
Except in Telangana, where state government expressed shock and promised job to the kin of deceased Saifuddin, BJP leadership ruling the state in coalition with Shinde Shiv Sena faction remained tight-lipped about the incident.
The attention then moved to Nuh and Gurugram as communal violence engulfed the region. The two incidents show the threats communal hatred pose to national integrity.
Leadership also dodged responses in the Parliament. This silence stokes fear further.