Arbaaz had been in a relationship with a Hindu woman for more than 2 years. The couple had been strongly urged to break off their relationship by all quarters. On September 28, he was found dead.

Picture of Arbaaz Mullah from Belagavi who was found dead on September 28, 2021, in the picture he is wearing an olive green t-shirt and railway track seen in the background
news Crime Tuesday, October 05, 2021 - 18:09

Around 8.30 pm on September 28, 31-year-old Sameer Pareshwari got a call from his aunt Nazima Mohammed Shaik. She was hysterical and told him that the Railway police had called her informing him that her son, 24-year-old Arbaaz Aftab, had been found dead on a railway track near Raja Tiles in Khanapur, close to Belagavi. Sameer, who lives in Belagavi, immediately took his mother, went to his aunt’s house and rushed to Khanapur. He was met with a chilling sight — the mutilated body of his cousin Arbaaz. He could barely stand to look at him, Sameer recalls. Though the family initially thought Arbaaz had died by suicide, it was around 3 in the morning that they received an even bigger shock — Arbaaz may have been the victim of cold-blooded murder.

“His severed head was lying on the track, the torso was lying face down on the track. The police said suicide, we also thought so. Around 3 am, they turned the body, as they were going to take it to the hospital. This is when I saw that his hands were tied with a rope,” Sameer recounts.

Sameer says that the family members immediately pointed this out to the police, who in turn told them not to click any pictures. But Sameer and a few others managed to, and they believe these photos will provide strong proof that Arbaaz was murdered. 

The family has pointed fingers at a fringe Hindutva group called Sri Ram Sena Hindustan, an offshoot of Pramod Muthalik’s Sri Ram Sene. 

Trigger warning, sensitive image below.

Arbaaz had been in a relationship with a Hindu woman for more than 2 years. The couple had been strongly urged to break off their relationship by all quarters and across religious lines, but they continued to meet each other in secret. But on September 26, Arbaaz and his mother Nazima were called for a meeting with members of Sri Ram Sena Hindustan. They claimed to seek to broker a ‘compromise’ with Arbaaz because of his relationship. The men at the meeting were Pundalik Mutgekar and Prashanth Birje, both Sri Ram Sena Hindustan members, and Ali Rangari, a Muslim man who had no connection to Arbaaz and Nazima. 

In that meeting, just two days before Arbaaz was found dead, the SRSH men broke Arbaaz’s phone, deleted the photos he had of him and his girlfriend and demanded a bribe of Rs 7,000, Nazima tells TNM. Arbaaz only had Rs 500 to pay them on that day. The family alleges that the group asked for more money later, about Rs 90,000, and Arbaaz ended up selling his old car on September 27.

It’s been a week since Arbaaz was found dead and an FIR filed. Till now, the Belagavi police have questioned several people, including members of Sri Ram Sena Hindustan, but have not arrested anyone. Not just that, even the post mortem report has not been prepared. “Does it take seven days for a post mortem report to come? Who will help us?” Sameer asks.

Read our detailed story: Murdered Muslim youth's call records point to Hindu vigilantes’ role, says family