The 23-year-old Delhi youth worked as a freelance photographer; was allegedly killed by the family of the Muslim girl he loved.
New Delhi: Yashpal Saxena is numb. For the past three days, he has been narrating the story of how he witnessed the murder of his only son, Ankit Saxena, while he stood there helpless, to reporters, relatives and politicians flocking his cramped one-room house in west Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar.
Ankit was allegedly beaten up and his throat slit with a cleaver by the father, mother and brother of an 18-year-old Muslim girl he was reportedly in love with, Thursday evening.
“I can hear him scream for help the moment I close my eyes at night,” Yashpal said, responding to a reporter’s question. “I could not save him despite being there. They slaughtered him before my eyes, how will I ever get those visuals out of my head?”
The 23-year-old was completing his graduation in arts from School of Open Learning, Delhi University. He was also working as a freelance photographer to support his family financially.
After Yashpal left his job of making doorbells two years ago — he suffered a heart attack and was operated upon — Ankit took over the responsibility to run the household.
While he used to shoot in the morning, he would attend classes at Khalsa College in the evening. Nights were devoted to learning photography and video editing skills online.
An aspiring YouTuber
Ankit, who wished to make an entry into Bollywood, first started working on his looks. He built a body, did his hair and beard, just so as to resemble Emraan Hashmi, his icon, and then started a channel named ‘Awaara Boy’ on YouTube. He posted several music videos, prank videos and even parodies, which he shot and edited in his free time, on the channel.
“He had not taken any training to either shoot or edit videos from anyone. All night he used to sit and learn how to edit videos online,” said Aman Narang, Ankit’s friend, who often featured in his prank videos. “He was very passionate about his work.”
Aman said Ankit wanted to become an actor. “But he knew that he cannot leave his parents to go to Mumbai. Then he decided to get famous through YouTube, hoping Bollywood takes notice of his work,” Narang added.
He not only sang very well but also played excellent guitar, that too he learnt on the internet himself, Narang said.
A love story that started in school
For Ankit, a frequent visitor to temples, mosques and gurudwaras, religion was not a consideration when he fell in love.
The 18-year-old girl he wished to marry was his neighbour for over 16 years. They shared the same interests, studied together and had many common friends. He often helped her with her subjects and assignments and guided her to pursue her bachelor’s degree after school.
Although Ankit did not mention his plan to marry the girl to his parents, his friends were aware of the affair.
“He really liked her. He mentioned that he wants to marry her but he had not spoken to his parents yet,” said one of Ankit’s friends.
“It was a very pure relationship, but her parents could not take it,” he added.
Locals say that as kids, the two were often seen playing together with other children, but they were unaware of them being attracted to each other.
“Just two days before Ankit’s death, I asked him about his plans to get married,” Geeta Kumari, Ankit’s neighbour, said.
“He told me that he will choose the girl himself, and I should get the arrangements done,” she added.
While Yashpal said that he would have accepted the relationship eventually as it involved his son’s happiness, the girl’s neighbours said that her father would have never agreed to it.
“Her family is very conservative. They did not let her step out and often beat her up,” claimed a neighbour. “They also told her to not pursue her studies, but she was adamant, maybe because she had Ankit’s support.”
There are many couples in the colony who have had inter-religious marriages. Two such couples live just opposite the girl’s house. In one of the families, the woman is a Muslim and she has married a Hindu without changing her religion.
“He (Ankit) never anticipated that this will end like this. He knew there will be problems, but he was always hopeful that the parents will agree,” said another friend.
“Just like he saw other such couples in the colony, he thought it was not such a big issue and that the parents would eventually agree,” he added.
No bystander came for help
Staring at his son’s photographs stuck on an almirah, Yashpal mumbled. “He could have been saved if the bystanders had intervened and overpowered those three people.”
Ankit was allegedly intercepted by the father, mother and brother of his girlfriend on a busy street in Raghubir Nagar while he was on his way to Tagore Garden Metro station to meet her. Before that, the girl had locked her father inside the home after he got wind of their relationship and threatened to kill Ankit.
But he managed to free himself and caught hold of Ankit at the Raghubir Nagar crossing, asking him about his daughter’s whereabouts. They allegedly started beating Ankit up. Meanwhile, Ankit’s parents too reached the spot after a neighbour informed them about the fight. As they were to intervene, the girl’s father allegedly took out a cleaver and slit Ankit’s throat. Though they managed to flee the spot, the police arrested all three later that evening.
“There were around hundred people gathered at the spot but no one tried to stop the man who was thrashing my son,” Yashpal said.
“The moment my wife and I reached there, he slit Ankit’s throat. I could not believe my eyes. My son, who had such a strong built, just collapsed on the ground in seconds,” Yashpal added.
He claimed none of the bystanders even lend a hand to take Ankit to the hospital.
Yashpal and his wife then somehow lifted their son and dragged him for a few metres, requesting people to help them take their son to the hospital.
He tried stopping a few cars, but no one cared to stop. Then luckily he got an autorickshaw and put Ankit inside and took him to the hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’.
Parents against politicising their loss
As the news of a Hindu killed by a Muslim spread, members and volunteers from different Hindu organisations started pouring in to meet the Saxena family.
Despite the family urging them to not give it a communal colour, a volunteer announced, “We will do whatever we can for our Hindu brother. Why could they not kill their own daughter? It would have solved the problem and would have set an example for once and for all.”
Ashish Saxena, Ankita’s cousin, then responded, “This is not what we want. This is not about Hindu-Muslim.”
“Let us not give it a communal colour. The police have been swift to arrest the culprits and we are satisfied with the ongoing investigation,” Ashish said.
Yashpal said his only wish is now to see that culprits be given a death sentence.
“Many Hindu groups came to us, but I folded my hands and urged them to not make this communal. We do not wish to get involved in any of this,” he said.