The Delhi Police told a local court on Wednesday that a 22-year-old man, who was allegedly killed by a mob during the violence in the northeastern part of the city in February was beaten up first and then set on fire to establish that he had “actually died”, reported The Indian Express on Thursday. The mob had assaulted the man, Shahbaz, after they identified him as a Muslim and burnt his body later in case he was “trying to feign unconsciousness”, the police said.

The police made the submissions during the bail hearing of an accused, 24-year-old Rahul Sharma. Only a piece of Shahbaz’s skull and some pelvic bones have been found so far, which the victim’s family claims to be of the 22-year-old. However, the Delhi Police said that it can be established only through a DNA test.

Following this, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav dismissed Sharma’s bail hearing. So far, five people have been arrested in the murder case.

On February 25, Shahbaz had visited the city’s Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital around 7 am to get medicines for his eyes, the court records said, according to the newspaper. Around 2.25 pm, his brother, Matloob Ahmad, informed him that he was trying to get home from Karawal Nagar through the bylanes. However, Ahmad was unable to get in touch with Shahbaz after this. Two days later, Ahmad was informed that a mob had killed his brother and burnt his body.

“He tried to escape by jumping over the wall and running into the water near the bushes towards PTS Wazirabad,” the police told the court. “He [Sharma] and other rioters chased Shahbaz.... The rioters caught him again and beat him mercilessly. The riotous mob dragged Shahbaz to the main Pusta Road.” After looting and beating him up, the mob “poured some more petrol and burnt Shahbaz alive”, the Delhi Police said.

The Delhi Police informed the court that dump data analysis and manual identification had been used for the inquiry. The person who had informed Ahmad of his brother’s death was now a prosecution witness, the police said. Two people, identified as Aman and Mohit, have confessed to killing Shahbaz and burning his body. Meanwhile, Sharma’s team denied the police’s allegations.

The violence and investigation

Clashes had broken out between the supporters and opposers of the Citizenship Amendment Act between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

In multiple chargesheets filed in June, the police had claimed the violence in Delhi was a result of a conspiracy to defame the Narendra Modi-led government. They alleged that people who had organised protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act were the conspirators. However, the police have failed to produce video evidence so far.