Kolkata: Jharkhand police have arrested four people for allegedly urinating inside a mosque in Giridih from the spot. Among the four accused, two are real brothers and another is a cousin. Of the two brothers, one holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration degree and is an employee of a multinational company (MNC). The other is a hotel management pass out. While the third person, their cousin, is a contractor and father of a daughter. The fourth accused deals in real estate. All accused are residents of the Pachamba area of Giridih district.
The father (deceased) of the two brothers used to be a teacher in a government school.
The incident that took place on Navami, the ninth day of the Durga Puja celebration, has not just shocked people but also the educational and professional background of the accused has stumped many.
On October 4, Sunny Raj, an employee of a multinational company (Bangalore office), reached Nayi Masjid situated at Khutta, Telodih. The 25-year-old was wearing a bermuda (presently working from home) and forcibly entered the mosque while people were offering Zohar (afternoon prayers). He then reached the Mimber [a pulpit in a mosque where the imam (leader of prayers) stands to deliver sermons] and urinated there. Soon people caught him.
His act was captured in the CCTV cameras installed inside the mosque.
“People present in the mosque also caught hold of another person, Rohit Raj (also in bermuda) outside the gate with a scooter. While two other persons — Deepalok Mitra and Chandan Gupta were waiting in a four-wheeler some distance away from him,” reads the FIR (copy with eNewsroom).
“While they were being beaten by the locals for their vile act, police reached the spot, following which the accused were handed over to them. But, there was a time when people were so agitated that to stop them police had to fire in the air to disperse the crowd,” informed Shabbir Alam, the Mukhiya (panchayat head) of Telodih.
Later, during a police investigation, it was revealed that Sunny Raj had attempted to enter another mosque situated along Pachamba main road to do the same but there he could not enter the mosque as people stopped him after noticing that he was wearing a bermuda.
Pachamba police station officer in-charge Saurav Raj told eNewsroom, “Everything has been recorded in the CCTV of Khutta masjid and there are other strong pieces of evidence against the accused.”
At both the mosques– the acts by accused Sunny Raj– successful and unsuccessful have been recorded on CCTV camera.
A case (number 130/2022) has been registered and sections—109, 153, 153 (A) (2), 245, 295 (A), 296, 12C (B) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code have been slapped against the five accused.
The 295 (A) is a section is slapped when deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings are performed. It is a non-bailable offence.
One accused, Babla Keshri, is absconding.
Additional Superintendent of Police Haris Bin Zaman told eNewsroom, “We are conducting regular raids to arrest Babla Keshari.”
The IPS officer also added that police seized the CCTV footage from the mosque concerning the incident, as its circulation could further create tension among people.
However, when Deepalok Mitra’s wife, Nayantara, a private school teacher, was contacted, she claimed, “We come from a well-to-do educated family. Sunny is mentally unstable. When my husband got a call concerning Sunny entering a mosque, I was about to serve lunch to my husband and his friend Chandan. Deepalok and Chandan went to bring Sunny back.”
But, Saurav, the officer-in-charge claimed, “During our investigation, we have not found any ‘mental instability’ in Sunny. Also, if he is unstable, why did he try executing his act at another mosque, four kilometres away after being unsuccessful at one.”
“We have diffused a very big communal incident in Giridih and Jharkhand. Had there been no CCTV footage, nobody would have believed that on Navami, a Hindu will go to a Muslim area and urinate in a mosque,” claimed Telodih Mukhiya.
He added, “We have also got information that Sunny had bought an expensive bike Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 which cost more than 4 lakhs in July this year. A person with an unstable mind or his family will not allow him to buy such a bike. It was a big conspiracy to create communal unrest in the city. Now, it is the police, who have to further investigate.”
Who is Sunny Raj?
An employee of an MNC, Sunny, did his schooling in Giridih. Later he did his MBA in human resources from Bengaluru and got a job there. A fan of Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias, Sunny used to share a lot of his pictures. His social media profile indicates that he is a self-centred guy. Sunny seems very active on Instagram too but his profile is private. His father, the late Suresh Nath Mitra had retired as a teacher. His elder brother, also arrested, has done hotel management from Bengaluru and is running a restaurant in Giridih. Rohit is married. Their sister has studied law and works as a legal advisor for a firm in Bengaluru. Deepalok, the cousin, who is behind bars too, is a contractor.
Politics on the issue
Significantly, all four accused have no direct connection with any political party in Jharkhand. However, several leaders of one political party, which is in opposition in Jharkhand, reached the police station pledging in favour of the accused. Officials, on condition of anonymity, mentioned that some senior leaders belonging to the party had called higher police authorities to have the issue dismissed.
Telodih residents present at the police station didn’t approve of their explanations. They even told the sympathisers that if the act had not been planned to create communal tension in the city during Durga Puja, then how did they reach the police station so fast in defence of the accused?
Later, former MP and BJP leader Ravindra Rai conducted a press conference and questioned the arrest of the four persons by Giridih police. Rai asked if it was now, not allowed to venture into a Muslim area, alleging that these were caught by the people belonging to the Muslim community and later police arrested them for entering their area.
On October 13, former chief minister and BJP leader Babulal Marandi held a PC in the state capital and alleged that police beat the four accused in the presence of two JMM MLAs—Sudivya Sonu and Sarfaraz Ahmad. He further went on to add, “Police has also forced the arrested youth and took confession from them.”
To which JMM district president Sanjay Singh replied, “First of all, Babulal Ji stature like a leader should condemn such an act in which somebody has tried to ruin the sanctity of a religious place. But this could not be expected from him (Babulal) now.”
“Now, his (Babulal) politics only depend on creating religious division in the society. JMM MLAs have nothing to do in this matter. The police is doing its job. We can only say that being in the government we will ensure that neither culprits are spared nor innocents are implicated,” said Singh.
Support for other accused not for Sunny
Alok Ranjan, a resident of Pachamba and lawyer, claimed, “Sunny did not remain in the city much so we do not know much about him. But Deepalok is not the kind of people who can hurt the religious sentiments of others.”
While Suhail Alam, a neighbour of Chandan Gupta vouched for him, “Last year, I had a major accident. I had fallen from my building, and it was Chandan who not only took me to a hospital at midnight but later got me admitted to another city after getting referred. He also lent me financial support for the treatment. I do not believe Chandan can be involved in such activities.”
However, sources claimed that Babla Keshri, whom police have yet to arrest, can divulge many secrets about the incident.
“I have known Sunny for over 15 years. He is not a guy to do such an act. On that very day, I got a call from Babla Keshari that Sunny had gone towards the mosque. He told me to go and bring him. But by the time I could reach there, I noticed something had already happened and people at the mosque had caught him. Seeing the crowd I did not move any further,” said Kunal Sao, a friend.
Sao mentioned, “There was some issue with him three years back, but he was fine now. However, I was not in Giridih for the last three months. I was in Delhi, so I do not know if there has been any change in his behavior recently.”
Police is being tight-lipped on the reason behind the accused urinating inside the mosque. Whether some more people were behind them, or it was done under some influence of drugs or both?