BISADA (Dadri): As the mob approached menacingly, Mohammad Akhlaq frantically called up his childhood friend, Manoj Sisodia, for help. After immediately informing the police, Sisodia ran to his friend’s house. Both the police and Sisodia reached the scene of the crime within 15 minutes of the call, but it was too late. Akhlaq was dead by then.
According to the police, Akhlaq’s call records show the last call from his mobile phone was made to Sisodia — who runs a small grocery store in the village and lives about 500 metres away from the victim’s house — around 10.30pm.
Speaking to TOI, Sisodia said he was shocked at his friend’s sudden death since the village had never seen an incident of communal violence till that night.
“By village standards, it was late in the night and I was preparing to go to sleep. That was when I saw Akhlaq’s name flash on my phone. He sounded frantic. He told me: ‘Manoj bhai, hum khatrein mein hain. Kisi tarah police ko phone karke force bulwa do’ (Manoj, we are in danger. Call up the police and ask them to send a force). Those were his last words to me,” Sisodia recounted.
“I called up the police and told them my friend’s life was under threat. After I put the phone down, I ran to his house. I ran without stopping, but I was late. The police also arrived within 15 minutes, but Akhlaq was already dead by then. Maybe if I had reached a little earlier, I could have helped in calming down the mob, enraged at the rumours of a calf having been slaughtered in the house. At least we could get his 21-year-old son, Danish, to hospital,” he said.
Relatives of Akhlaq mourn after he was killed by a mob. (Reuters photo)
Danish, who is being treated at Kailash Hospital in Noida, had a fractured skull with bleeding in the frontal lobe, following which he had to undergo two complicated brain surgeries.
Akhlaq’s autopsy report, on the other hand, suggested he died of ante-mortem injuries and haemorrhage caused by a blow to the head from a blunt object.
According to Sisodia, he was gripped by fear for his own life soon after he had sent Danish to hospital. “I feared that the mob would turn on me. After all, I used to dine with Akhlaq and his family often.”
Sub-inspector Satbir Singh Chauhan, who has been stationed outside Sisodia’s house, said, “Sisodia was the one who first called the police. When we checked Akhlaq’s phone, Sisodia’s number was the last dialled on his call log.”
Recalling his life-long friendship with Akhlaq, Sisodia said he was shocked at the unfortunate turn of events in his village where the two communities have always lived peacefully. “Ever since I learnt to speak, I have known him. I celebrated with him when his elder son got inducted in the Air Force and I saw his daughter grow up in front of my house. This is not the sort of village where Hindus and Muslims don’t mingle. Even though there are only about 30-40 Muslim families in a village of over 6,000 people, they have never faced any danger,” he said.
Sisodia said the villagers were upset with the patronizing tone of visiting politicians and heavy deployment of police force here. “Bisada has turned into a circus of some sort. There is continuous presence of police force. Every day a new politician visits us and media persons come along with him. In all this mess, the village has got no time to heal.”
Vishnu Singh, another Bisada resident, said, “Politicians and the media don’t have to tell us how to be civilized. Their tone is very patronizing. This is the first instance of communal violence here in centuries and this will be the last. We will be just fine if we are left alone.”
Read this in Hindi: मदद के लिए हिंदू दोस्त को की थी इखलाक ने आखिरी कॉल