New Delhi: Family members of the five accused who were allegedly involved in stabbing Rinku Sharma to death have claimed that it was the latter who started the fight and brought the murder weapon — a knife — to attack them.
The five accused — Zahid, Mehtab, Nasruddin, Islam and Tazuddin — were arrested by the police after the 25-year-old Rinku succumbed to his injuries Thursday.
The victim’s younger brother Manu Sharma is a member of the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s youth wing Bajrang Dal, and he and the organisations have claimed that the murder was committed over the fund collection drive for the Ram Mandir.
But the families of the accused have said there is no communal angle to this crime, a claim backed up by Rinku’s mother Radha Devi.
The case has been transferred to the Delhi Police Crime Branch. ThePrint contacted Praveer Ranjan, Special Commissioner of Police (CP), Crime, through calls and messages to ask about Nasruddin’s injuries and who had brought the knife to the crime spot, but he refused to comment on the matter. ThePrint also contacted S.N. Srivastava, Commissioner of Police, but no response was received till the time of publishing this report.
Claims of the accused’s families
The families of the accused have alleged that it was Rinku Sharma who first attacked Nasruddin, and also tried to cut open the pipes of a gas cylinder. The families claimed Rinku was drunk and had become hysterical, and that his mother Radha Devi had tried to stop him from attacking the five men.
Nasruddin’s wife Shama told ThePrint that the fight started after Rinku and his friends had allegedly forced their nephew Zahid to consume alcohol at a friend’s birthday party. Shama claimed that Tazuddin, who was a home guard 10 years ago, wasn’t even at the spot when the crime took place.
She added that Nasruddin had received a phone call, after which his family went to speak to Rinku’s family around 10pm Wednesday night.
“Rinku and his friends Akash, Babu, Sachin and Golu had asked Zahid, our nephew, to come join Babu’s birthday party at a nearby restaurant. However, there, they started bullying him and forcing him to drink alcohol. They slapped and tortured him after getting drunk,” Shama claimed.
“We were also about to sleep when someone called and informed us that they are hitting our nephew. We had only gone there to talk to them, but the men from both the houses picked up sticks,” she said.
“We didn’t try to remove the pipes from the cylinders; Rinku wanted to throw it on us and his mother was stopping him. It was Rinku who got the knife and first hurt my husband. We went to Sanjay Gandhi hospital for treatment after that and I don’t know who stabbed Rinku,” Shama added.
When asked if Nasruddin was hurt, Rinku’s brother Manu said: “Yes, he was a little hurt, but they didn’t leave the spot till Rinku was stabbed. However, they had reached the hospital before we did for Rinku and Akash’s treatment.”
In his complaint, Manu has accused Mehtab of stabbing Rinku in the back with the knife.
Fight over restaurant business, not communal
The family members of the accused left the capital for their homes in Bihar’s Samastipur Thursday, soon after the crime.
Zakir Hussain, uncle of the accused Islam, a social worker based in Bihar, reiterated the police’s earlier statements that the fight between the accused and the deceased had broken out over their restaurant businesses.
“Nasruddin and two of Rinku’s friends had opened restaurants nearby. The families have known each other for many years. But during lockdown, the restaurant opened by Rinku’s friends had suffered losses and shut down, while Nasruddin’s survived the pandemic. That night, the fight broke out over it,” Hussain claimed.
Radha Devi, Rinku’s mother, denied that the crime was a communal episode, in contradiction to what the VHP and Bajrang Dal have claimed. She, however, stated that things deteriorated after a scuffle broke out between men of both families over money some five or six months ago.
She said: “An argument had broken out between men of both the families over money some 5-6 months ago. I don’t know much about it. There are many other Muslims here; we only have a problem with the accused, not with the others.”
The families of the five accused have also indicated that their relations with the Sharma family remained cordial until a while ago. Nasruddin’s house is just one house away from Sharma’s, the other four also live nearby.
Manu claimed that Rinku had even donated blood to a relative of one of the accused when she was pregnant, and even helped admit another relative in the hospital when he tested positive for Covid-19.
Islam’s uncle Zakir also said there was no communal motive behind Sharma’s death, and that it should be treated as a case of fight between the men.
“We aren’t anti-Hindu like the media and Sharma’s family are showing. In fact, I closely work for the Ram Mandir donation drive and have met various BJP ministers. We wanted the Ram Mandir to be built,” Hussain said, sharing photos of him with BJP leaders Shahnawaz Hussain and Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Shama also claimed that the families celebrated Holi and Diwali together and even ate prasad after puja from Rinku’s family. Islam’s uncle Zakir said: “We are extremely apologetic that Sharma family lost their son, but there is no communal angle here. For a few persons’ fault, the entire community shouldn’t be targeted.”
However, Manu has claimed the accused had earlier had an argument with his and Rinku’s family during an event on Dussehra last year. The copy of the FIR based on Manu’s complaint, accessed by ThePrint, also mentions this.