Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain on Thursday vehemently denied any involvement in the death of Intelligence Bureau employee Ankit Sharma, saying he would cooperate with any official investigation into the matter.
Sharma’s body was found in a drain near his home in Jafrabad on Wednesday. He had been missing since Tuesday.
His father Ravinder Sharma, an assistant sub-inspector with the Delhi Police, has alleged that people associated with Hussain had a role to play in his son’s death.
The Delhi Police has registered a murder case and named Hussain. The Print reports police have called it a case of “targeted murder” and said the AAP councillor will be called in for questioning.
“Around 15-20 people came from Tahir’s building and dragged 5-6 people inside the building. They also fired at other people who tried to save those taken inside the building,” he told ANI.
Hussain told media on Thursday that he was saddened by Ankit’s death. “His family should get justice and I will cooperate with Delhi Police investigation into it.”
Hussain also denied any association with a mob that was allegedly throwing stones and petrol bombs from the terrace of his building.
On Wednesday night, BJP’s Kapil Mishra, who has been accusing of inciting the riots, tweeted an unverified video where he alleged this. BJP national spokesperson Amit Malviya and Delhi spokesperson Harish Khurana were among party leaders who also shared the video. Journalists Rahul Pandita and Anubha Bhosle also shared similar videos, which they said they had received from locals. While news channels have been sharing these videos and other images, they have not been verified by any authority or media organisations yet.
In a video statement shared by AAP’s social media head Ankit Lal late on Wednesday night, Hussain said that he had left his building on Monday itself after a mob tried to attack him and his family.
“I came to know from news reports that I am being blamed for the murder of a man. These are lies and baseless accusations. For our safety, my family and I had moved away from our home on Monday in police presence,” he said.
What Ankit Sharma’s family said
Ankit’s father said the IB staffer had not returned for hours after he left his house around 5.30 pm on Tuesday.
“When he did not return, we started looking for him. We also went to the GTB and LNJP (Lok Nayak Jai Prakash) hospitals to check whether he was admitted, but could not find him. We kept searching for him till 3 am on Wednesday. Later around 10 am, we got information that his body was lying inside the Chand Bagh drain. We never thought that he will be killed,” he told PTI.
In an interview to the Wall Street Journal, Ankit’s brother Ankur Sharma said that the IB officer was dragged away by an armed mob shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ when he was returning home.
“They came armed with stones, rods, knives and even swords; they shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ [Glory to Lord Ram}; some even wore helmets,” said Ankur Sharma, in a telephone interview. “They started throwing stones and bricks at residents, who rushed to Ankit to help them… Later, his body was found in a ditch.”
However, Ankur told Hindustan Times that the mob that snatched his brother was operating from Hussain’s building. “A mob was pelting stones from the terrace of that building,” he said.
Sharma’s brother Ankur said some women from their colony informed them in the morning that they saw people throwing his brother in the drain.
“When the persons saw the women, they threatened them with dire consequences if they revealed about it to anyone. He sustained several stab wounds before being dumped into the drain,” he said.
Tahir Hussain’s response
In interviews to the media on Thursday, Hussain said his building had been checked by the police on February 24 and been handed over to them after he left it with his family the same day. The AAP councillor said in his statement that he had asked for police presence in the area so that his building was not misused.
Hussain said he had tried to stop the riots on Monday. “There was fire on the sides (of the building) and my wife and our Hindu neighbours were pouring water to put it out.”
He said the visuals being shown in the videos were from February 25. He said he and his wife had only returned in police presence to remove cars near the building and to take a few things from their house, all of which was checked by the police.
“The building was in police custody till 4pm on February 25,” he said.
“Whatever happened later needs to be investigated. I’m prepared to cooperate with any investigation by the Delhi police,” he said.
In a tweet on February 25 evening, Hussain has asked the Northeast Delhi DCP to make arrangements because the building was surrounded by rioters.
Delhi CM and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday evening, “If those involved in riots are found to be from AAP, double punishment should be given.”
Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said the party’s stand remains clear that strictest punishment must be taken against anyone associated with spreading violence and added that Hussain has given his statement on the matter, PTI reported on Wednesday.
AAP’s national executive member Preeti Sharma Menon tweeted: