Home Crime Aligarh child murder case: Locals find it hard to believe that serial sexual predator Aslam did not rape the child

Aligarh child murder case: Locals find it hard to believe that serial sexual predator Aslam did not rape the child

According to a ground report by Swarajya's Swati Goel Sharma, locals found it difficult to believe that Aslam, in particular, did not rape the child. Aslam has been arrested under POCSO in two prior incidents and he was also accused of molesting his own daughter.

The barbarity exhibited in the brutal killing of a three-year-old Tina (name changed) by Zahid and Aslam in Aligarh has shaken the conscience of the country. While there are few ‘secular’ comrades and self-proclaimed fact-checkers who have been busy spreading misinformation and resorting to whitewashing the crime, ruling out any possibility of rape on the minor, Swarajya Magazine’s Swati Goel Sharma elucidates the perspective of the locals.

In a ground report, Swati apprises the readers with the local’s and the victim’s family’ point of view regarding the barbaric incident which transpired in Tappal village in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh recently.

Tappal has been flooding with protestors from places as far as New Delhi and Haryana as the atmosphere here remains tensed. The locals guide Swarjya’s correspondent to a lane they call ‘Panditon ki Gali’ (street of Pandits). A tent is set up and carpet laid outside the house of the victim’s family.

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When the correspondent approached the victim’s father and asked about the money dispute that the police have apprised the media to be the motive of the crime, Tina’s irked father lambasted, “You really think somebody would unleash such brutality on a child for 10,000 rupees?” he asks. “That too when we did not even force him to return the money?”

The father, however, refusing to comment further on the motive said, “All I ask for is that the culprits, whoever they are, should be hanged,” he says with folded hands. “Or better, stoned to death at the highway,” he added bitterly.

The victim’s grandfather also stepped in at that point and narrated what transpired and what led him to name Zahid as a suspect.

Zahid (27), was the first to be arrested in the case, followed by his 42-year-old neighbour Aslam. Zahid’s wife Sabusta and younger brother Mehdi Hasan were also arrested later.

The grandfather informed that he had got into an altercation with Zahid two days before his grandchild went missing on 30 May. “I was walking by when I saw Jahid engaged in an argument with a bicholia (middleman),” he says. The bicholia, also a Muslim, had got him to lend Rs 50,000 on interest to Zahid about a year ago. Zahid had returned Rs 40,000 so far.

“They were fighting over money. When they saw me, the middleman ordered Zahid to return my money. I snapped at the middleman saying he should be the one to return it as I was dealing with him and not Zahid. We had some more arguments. But for me, the matter ended then and there and I moved on though I heard Zahid say loudly, “main sabko dekh lunga” (I will deal with everyone)” he recollected.

According to the initial reports, Zahid was the prime accused as Tappal police had testified that Zahid had brutally choked Tina Sharma (name changed). Locals claimed that when sniffer dogs were taken to the garbage heap where Tina’s mutilated body was dumped, the dogs ran towards Zahid’s house. A senior cop at Tappal station testified to this. Subusta came under the scanner as it was her dupatta that the body was found wrapped in.

However, the locals were refusing to buy the police’s explanation. Those gathered for mourning told Swarajya that they found it difficult to believe that Zahid had planned the crime as “he was not criminal-minded”. The locals believed that it was masterminded by Aslam, who they believed was a serial sexual predator who targeted minors.

Cops at the Tappal police station also confirmed that Zahid had no prior criminal record. Aslam, on the other hand, had been booked twice in the past under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and once under UP Goonda Act.

In 2014, he was booked under IPC 376 (rape) and sections 3 and 4 of POCSO (penetrative sexual assault) Act for raping his nine-year-old daughter after taking her to a field (FIR number 41/14). In 2015, he was booked under the UP Goonda Act under various sections (FIR number 43/015).

Similarly, in 2017, Aslam was booked under sections 452 (house-trespass) and 354 (outraging modesty of a woman) and sections 7 and 8 of POCSO (sexual assault) for molesting a minor girl after breaking into her house (FIR number 76/017).

In addition, locals also spoke about a prominent case where Aslam sexually assaulted a minor boy for two weeks. Mohit Pratap Singh, Aslam’s neighbour confirmed that “about two years ago, he brought a minor boy from Delhi and kept him in confinement for two weeks. It was only after a police team from Delhi raided his house and rescued the boy that we came to even know about it.” Scores of locals corroborated this incident.

Moreover, Tina’s mother had also come forth and alleged that Aslam had raped his own 4-year-old daughter earlier.

Meanwhile, locals also recalled Aslam as violent. A neighbour says that a day before the body was found, Aslam chased his wife with a butchers’ knife in the street. “He would have probably killed her if not for our intervention,” the neighbour says. He adds that his wife had come home from her parent’s place the same day. Neighbours furthered that Aslam’s wife had left him last year when he assaulted his daughter again.

Another prime reason why residents of Tappal village suspect Aslam of executing the crime is because the back gate of the house of the girl’s grandfather opens into the locality where Aslam has a second house.

The victim’s uncle confirmed that there was no possibility of Tina going to Zahid’s locality. “No one seems to have spotted him here either”, confirmed Tina’s uncle.

On the morning of 2 June, a woman sweeper raised an alarm after she discovered a maggot-infested body thrown in a pile of garbage and being fed on by stray dogs around 6.30 am. A crowd gathered at the spot that is hardly 200 metres away from the Sharma house. The sight left them stunned. It was mutilated beyond recognition.

The barbarity unleashed on the child could be gauged from what a doctor who did the post-mortem later confirmed. “In my seven years of doing post-mortems, I have never seen such brutality. Her nasal bridge was damaged and her left leg and left arm were broken. Her right hand had been removed from her body.” The report, which was circulated widely on social media, also mentions ‘liquefied brain’, ‘both eyes tissues loosened’ and ribs seen separately. It suggests death by strangulation.

The family recognised the child by the yellow shorts which were similar to what Tina was wearing when she went missing.

Moreover, the family also questions the police’s conduct in the initial days. According to Tina’s maternal grandfather, the police were trying to cover up the case. He says that when the body was discovered, the cops immediately took it to the police station and, without informing the family, began to take it “somewhere” in their vehicle. But residents confronted the cops, asking them where the blood relatives of the girl were.

“The police lied to them saying the girl’s grandfather was in their vehicle. Residents protested saying he was still in the thana. They understood that the police were trying to show the recovery at a distant location and stopped the vehicle,” he says. The body was then sent to the local hospital. Stuffed in a bag, it was later taken to Aligarh for post-mortem. This time, there were family members too, he says.

A relative says the police wanted to hush up the case as it was “a Hindu-Muslim matter”. For the same reason, locals are criticising the police’s hurried statement ruling out rape.

“If there was no rape, why are police adding POCSO?” asks a relative. “The post-mortem had no evidence of rape but did not rule out the possibility. Also, when the forensic report [examining vaginal swabs of the girl] is awaited, why was police in a rush to declare no rape took place?” he asks.

Locals found it difficult to believe that Aslam, in particular, did not rape the child. “Are we expected to believe that a man who doesn’t spare his own daughter, brings boys from Delhi to satisfy his urge, peeps into minor girls’ bathrooms, would spare this girl?” asks a neighbour.

Aslam, it is learnt, had been boycotted by many residents. Neighbours say the locals held a meeting last year and called for Aslam to be driven out of the village. But the move was halted by some members of his Muslim community.

It is also believed that around Aslam’s other house near Zahid’s, where the body was discovered, the mostly Muslim neighbours refuse to speak. Several houses were in fact locked on Sunday.

Residents, who have refused to buy the monetary dispute motive, now ask why a serial sexual predator like Aslam was allowed to roam freely despite several cases against him.

Though the post mortem report is yet to ascertain whether the minor girl was raped or not, the local’s corroboration leaves one to believe that there is much more to be identified in this barbaric crime which has sent chills down the spine of the citizens of India.

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