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‘Hoped to Find Him Alive Till Last Moment’: Body of Bijnor Youth Found in Drain Week After Delhi Riots

Firoz Khan, Aftab's elder brother, holds a picture of his younger brother

Firoz Khan, Aftab's elder brother, holds a picture of his younger brother

Aftab’s bloated body, which was recovered from a drain in Karawal Nagar on Sunday, was identified by three of his elder brothers at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital.

New Delhi: Aftab, 21, had arrived in Delhi’s Shiv Vihar from Noorpur, Bijnor only a day before violence erupted in the working class suburb of north-east Delhi. On Monday, his family’s six-day long hunt for the youngest among six brothers ended. Along with it also ended any sliver of hope they had of finding him injured, but alive.

Aftab’s bloated body, which was recovered from a drain in Karawal Nagar on Sunday, was identified by three of his elder brothers at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital. Aftab was the first among five deceased persons —who were recovered from drains in Karawal Nagar and Gokulpuri—to be identified. All five were brought to RML Hospital.

Over the past six days, there was not a single mortuary across any of the major public hospitals which his brothers had not visited. At Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital (GTB), which has recorded 38 riot related deaths till now, the brothers checked each body at the mortuary over the past week. Each night, they camped at the Delhi government’s night shelter in Kashmere Gate.

(L-R) Aftab's father Mohammad Umar and brothers Firoz Khan and Furqan outside the RML Hospital mortuary. (Photo by Nikhil Ghanekar)

Trepidation was writ large on their faces as the moment of identifying what could be their brother’s corpse came closer on Monday. As they prepared to go in, doctors at the mortuary informed them that the bodies were bloated and disfigured. It was Firoz Khan, 40, and Furqan, two of his elder brothers, who first went inside the hospital’s mortuary. Both seemed convinced that their worst fears had come true. But hoping they were wrong, they also called their younger sibling Qadir from GTB Hospital to check again. It was not to be.

“We identified him from a mole he has on his left cheek and a yellow jacket he was wearing. Till the very last moment, we thought he would be found in some hospital, injured, but alive,” said Qadir.

Aftab had arrived in Delhi because he wanted to work and earn his own money. He had passed matriculation and was studying in Class 11 through correspondence. In Shiv Vihar, he had joined some of his friends and was going to start a job as an apprentice welder at shops that sold and fixed air coolers. Firoz Khan said Aftab was keen on academics and wanted to complete graduation. Their father, Mohammad Umar, runs a grocery back home in Noorpur.

“Our last conversation with him was on the evening of February 24 at 4pm. He was with his friends. On Tuesday, February 25, his friends informed me that he was caught in the middle of a violent mob in the morning. They saw him getting assaulted and then he disappeared. His phone went silent by afternoon,” said Firoz Khan.

Aftab’s family had filed a First Information Report at the police station in Karawal Nagar and on Monday. The police said that the post-mortem procedure will be carried out on Tuesday.