Mohsin Sheikh Lynching: Father dies waiting for Justice

In a cruel twist of fate, Mohammed Sadiq Sheikh, father of slain Pune techie Mohsin Sheikh, could not live to see justice being delivered in what is one of the earliest cases of anti-minority mob lynching after the new government came to power at the center. Sadiq died of heart failure in Solapur on Monday.

Image Courtesy: The Indian Express

He had been spearheading the campaign to secure justice for his son Mohsin who was attacked and killed by a group of Hindu Rashtra Sena members on his way back from a mosque in Pune on June 2, 2014. At the time of Mohsin’s lynching, violent protests had broken out in the city with the HRS up in arms against the circulation of objectionable pictures of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. They channelled their hate and frustration on 28 year old Mohsin, snuffing out the life of an innocent young man from Solapur who was living his dream, working for a private technology firm in Pune. He had come a long way from helping out at his father’s photo-copy shop in an economically backward neighbourhood.

That night Mohsin was riding a bike with his friend Riyaz, while Mohsin’s brother Mobin rode on another bike a little ahead, which is why he was way ahead when the mob attacked Mohsin. But he rushed back upon receiving a call from Riyaz. Mobin recalls, “I rushed back and found him lying bleeding on the road. None of the bystanders helped me to lift him and take him to hospital. By the time I could move him, he had lain there at least 20 minutes.”

Following Mohsin’s lynching, Mobin had filed a complaint at the Hadapsar Police Station that led to the arrest of 21 HRS members, including their leader Dhananjay Jayram Desai. While most others managed to secure bail, Desai remains behind bars at the Yerwada Jail.

The trial in the case became controversial when Justice Mridula Bhatkar of the Bombay High Court sited Sheikh’s religion as his ‘fault’ and the provocation for murder. While upholding the bail granted to three of the accused in the case judge Bhatkar had observed that, “the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. More-over, the applicants/accused do not have any criminal record and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder”. This comment drew sharp criticism from all quarters.

A shocked Sadiq had at the time wondered aloud, “We are not convinced by the ground on which the HC has granted bail to the accused. Is provocative speech permissible for murder of an innocent person from another religion?” He had vowed to take the matter to the Supreme Court and his prayers were answered when the apex court castigated the Bombay High Court for the callous observation. A bench of justices SA Bobde and L Nageshwar Rao had said, “We have no doubt that a court fully conscious of the plural composition of the country, while called upon to deal with rights of various communities, cannot make such observations which may appear to be coloured with a bias for or against a community.” They further observed that “the fact that the deceased belonged to a certain community cannot be a justification for any assault much less a murder”.

But Sadiq had suffered a lot more. He was made to jump through hoops by the bureaucratic machinery to get compensation. He had applied under a central government scheme to compensate civilian victims of terror related violence. It was only in June 2018, that the government passed an order to give the family Rs 10 lakhs. But in the absence of a single penny, Sadiq had to move Bombay High Court get the compensation amount promised to him. The Bombay High Court slammed the government for failing to release the amount, and on November 30, 2018, the state promised to release the amount within a week.

With Sadiq gone, the family will decide how to proceed with the legal battle.



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