Chandigarh: A 50-year-old Delhi government employee was among four persons arrested on Wednesday in connection with the killing of a Muslim youth onboard a Mathura-bound train, the police said.
With these arrests the number of those held in the case, which triggered nation-wide outrage, has reached five but the "prime accused" is still at large, they added.
"We have arrested four more persons, including three youths, aged between 24 and 30 years and a 50-year-old man," Kamaldeep Goel, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Government Railway Police (GRP), Faridabad, said over phone. The 50-year-old arrested on Wednesday is a Delhi government employee while the three others were doing some private jobs, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), GRP, Faridabad, Mohinder Singh said.
The accused persons belong to areas close to Hodal near Palwal in Faridabad and are believed to be regular commuters, according to police officials.
Goel said that with these arrests, the sequence of events which led to the stabbing of Junaid has also, to a large extent, become clear.
Junaid (17) was stabbed when he along with his brothers was returning home to Khandawli village in Ballabgarh after shopping for Eid in Delhi on Thursday.
Goel said that it had come to fore that the 50-year-old man had entered into an altercation with Junaid and his brothers over seat sharing.
"He then passed some remarks hurting the victims' religious sentiments. Our investigations reveal that this 50-year-old man entered into an argument with the victim and his brothers from Okhla over seats.
"However three youths who had boarded the train at New Town Faridabad station also got involved in the quarrel with the 50-year-old man egging them on," Goel said. Asked if the person who had stabbed Junaid had been nabbed, the SP said the "prime accused" was still at large.
He, however, expressed confidence that "now, we have got crucial leads and he too will be in custody soon". Earlier on Wednesday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar condemned the incident.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event, Khattar said the government would not allow anyone to take the law in their hands. "The action in the case is being taken as per ongoing investigations. Whatever action is deemed fit will be taken," he said.
Asked from where the four accused were arrested on Wednesday, DSP Mohinder Singh said, "we have questioned several people during the past few days. On the basis of statements taken from some of the passengers in the train, we had summoned a few suspects at the office of the crime branch at Faridabad on Wednesday. After the role of the four was established, we arrested them".
He said the accused belong to areas close to Hodal near Palwal in Faridabad. They are all believed to be regular commuters who used to take the EMU train to New Delhi from the Haryana town.
Junaid was stabbed to death while his brothers - Hashim and Sakir - were injured by a mob which also allegedly hurled slurs against them onboard the Delhi-Mathura passenger train between Ballabgarh and Mathura stations on Thursday night. Junaid's body was dumped close to Asaoti village in Faridabad district.
Police had earlier announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for credible information leading to arrest of the accused in the case.
One person who had been arrested earlier had been remanded to judicial custody by a court in Faridabad district. The accused person arrested earlier, while speaking to
reporters, had alleged that he was in an inebriated state and had attacked the teenager after being instigated by fellow passengers.
The incident was also condemned by Union Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday. The CPI(M) had also sent a delegation to meet the victim's family.
The delegation asked the police to ascertain the political affiliation of those involved in the "horrific mob lynching" and said the accused would not have dared to target the victim sans "political patronage" in the BJP-ruled state. Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had also visited the victim's family yesterday and condemned the incident.
Junaid's brothers had told reporters earlier that the attackers taunted and repeatedly called them "anti-nationals" and "beef eaters".