By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
On December 14, 2021, Rahul Khan, a 22-year-old Muslim from Husangabad village in Haryana’s Palwal district, died from his injuries after being assulted by at least three men over stealing a phone. The accused were reportedly his own friends, who had attended a wedding with him in a different town. The day after the wedding, one of the accused told Kahn’s family that he had been in a car accident, yet the post- mortem examination showed injuries consistent with a severe beating.
The names of the perpetrators are Aakash, Vishal, and Kalua. The local law enforcement in this case have not released their full names. All three suspects have now been arrested and are in police custody.
In the viral video that led to these arrests, reportedly taken by Aakash, one of the men allegedly repeated “I am Hindu” as Khan was being attacked. That was enough for Khan’s family to declare Rahul Khan’s murder a hate crime. As of the writing of this article, the police still see the murder as an act of vigilantism, with faith having nothing to do with the circumstances of his assault and subsequent death.
As reported by Scroll.in, the station house officer, Ram Chandar Jakhar, at Chand Hut police station said, “When they were there, Rahul Khan took Kalua’s phone. When Kalua started looking for it and asked Khan about it, Rahul said he didn’t have it. But then when they checked, they found the phone on Rahul. They were all drinking and started hitting him.”
Khan’s wife told the press , “These people were very close friends. While dying all he kept saying was to ask Kalua why he would thrash him so mercilessly. I want all the accused to be arrested. I want to make sure no one kills another Rahul like this again.”
If Rahul Khan’s death is determined a hate crime, it could, unfortunately, be one of many. In a 2018 article, Hansraj Ahir, former Minister of State for Home Affairs of India, confirmed that “the National Crime Records Bureau does not maintain specific data with respect to lynching incidents in the country.” The Citizen’s Religious Hate Crime Watch, an India Spend data journalism initiative, has found that although Muslims make up just 14% of the population, they made up 62% of the victims of religious violence. According to the Hate Crime Watch report, “the actual number of hate crimes and of fatalities are likely to be higher, perhaps much higher, because the national press ignores many of these incidents, particularly those that are not fatal.”