Kasaragod: Hanif Abdul Rahiman (49), a hotelier who was allegedly beaten to death by a group of men in Mumbai, was laid to rest in his village at Arikkady in Kumbla grama panchayat on December 25.
But the battle to bring him justice is an uphill task, says Bombay Kerala Muslim Jama-ath, an organisation representing Muslims from Kerala in the metropolis. "We, Malayalis, had to sit on dharna at the (MRA Marg) police station to force the reluctant officers to register an FIR," says Haneefa Kobanoor, secretary of the Jama-ath. "We will not rest till the people responsible for Hanif's death are brought to justice," he says.
Sixteen days after Hanif was attacked, MRA Marg police registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 304 of IPC) and arrested Hanif's building owner Noor Ul-Amin Abdul Rehman Shaikh (57), his son, Mohammad Ali Noor Ul-Amin Shaikh (26) and their employee Ateeq Ur Yusuf Rehman (33). "But there are seven other accused who are yet to be arrested. And we want all of them to be charged with murder," said Haneefa Kobanoor.
For the past 12 years, Hanif Abdul Rahiman had been running a 12-room lodge named Malabar Residency on DN Road, 400m from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai. The rooms on the fifth floor of Fine Mansion belong to Noor Ul-Amin Abdul Rehman Shaikh, the first accused.
"Hanif gave Rs 25 lakh as a security deposit to Noor and had been running the lodge for all these years. He invested a lot of money in furnishing the rooms, too," said Haneefa.
Recently, Noor asked Hanif to return the lodge to him but was not ready to return the security deposit, said the Jama-ath secretary. Hanif said he would give up the lodge when he got his Rs 25 lakh. That was because, during the Covid (pandemic), Noor took back from Hanif another lodge at Bhendi Bazaar, 2km from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus railway station. "Hanif did not get the security deposit he gave for that lodge," he said.
On December 6, Noor called Hanif to the building under the pretext of negotiating. "But a gang of goons was waiting for him," he said. They thrashed him till the police came from MRA Marg Station, 1.5km away.
The officers took the goons to the MRA Marg Police Station and Hanif to St George Hospital nearby.
"Despite our complaint, the police did not file an FIR," said Haneefa, who runs a restaurant in Mumbai.
On December 7, Hanif's friends got the bad news from St George. The report from the government hospital said he had suffered trauma to his chest and abdomen. "His lungs had suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome because of the trauma. His heart has also mildly enlarged," said Haneefa.
He shared the medical report with Onmanorama.
As his condition worsened, they shifted him to Bombay Hospital, a private multispecialty hospital. On December 16, he underwent an angioplasty.
On December 22, Hanif was discharged from Bombay Hospital.
The next day, Hanif collapsed in his house. He was declared dead on arrival by the hospital.
That day, the members of the Kerala Bombay Muslim Jammath and other Malayalis protested at the police station demanding the registration of an FIR, said Haneefa.
Since December 7, Hanif Rahiman and his friends had been trying to register an FIR with MRA Marg Police. "The officers refused to even accept Hanif's petition," said Haneefa.
In his petition, Hanif Rahiman wrote: The accused took away the digital video recorder (DVR) of the CCTV cameras in the building to destroy evidence. "I also request the higher police authorities to check the CCTV footage from the building and the police station from 8.30 pm on December 6 to 5 am on December 7 so that they can make out how the police performed their duty," he wrote in his petition.
The police officially accepted the petition on December 22, the day he was discharged from the hospital.
On December 23, soon after Hanif was pronounced dead, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) Maharashtra unit general secretary C H Abdul Rahman led the group of Keralites and staged the protest in front of the MRA Marg police station. The officers refused to meet him or the protesters till evening.
He said the accused had thrashed Hanif and tried to throw Hanif from the fifth-floor window, and took away the DVR of the CCTV camera. "Despite all that, the police refused to even register an FIR," he said.
When Hanif was in the hospital, Lok Sabha member E T Mohammed Basheer had also called the senior officers of Mumbai Police and urged them to register an FIR for the murderous assault on the man.
Angry members of the Jama-ath gathered at the MRA Marg police station again on December 24 and refused to leave till an FIR was registered. "The attempt to murder has become murder, yet you are not registering a case," a protester can be heard asking the police officers in a video clip.
It appeared that the police were influenced by the accused, said Haneefa.
Late in the evening, MRA police registered a case under Sections 304, 141, and 143 (unlawful assembly) and 147 (rioting) and arrested the three accused. No charges were pressed for allegedly destroying evidence, said the protesters.
Hanif is survived by his mother Beefathima (65), wife Hajira, a homemaker, and three school-going children - two daughters aged 16 and eight years and a 12-year-old son. His father Abdul Rahman died 10 years ago.
"Hanif was his mother's only son. His family is orphaned. That's why we are even more determined to get him justice," said Haneefa of Kerala Bombay Muslim Jama-ath.