White chalk dust marked a small lane which led to a cluster of houses nestled together at the end of it. A subdued March evening in the uptown area of Baghat of Srinagar city had seen a hustling and chaotic twelve hours. The family of Abdul Rashid Bhat had buried their son that morning, and pitched in their lawn were two tents, where mourners had gathered.
Twenty-eight-year-old Aaqib Rashid Bhat worked in a tech company in Gurgaon and was living in a flat in Delhi till the night of March 2, 2021, when his father got a call from one of his flat-mate that his son had been found hanging from the ceiling fan in his room.
“He had been speaking to his nephews on the phone till 9 that night, while I hadn’t spoken to him in a while, he was in constant contact with the little cousins as he loved them a lot,” said a desolate Bhat speaking to Tahrir, “then I got a call at 10 pm that night saying that my son has committed suicide. For a moment I couldn’t believe what my ears had heard.”
Cry of foul play.
Known to his friends and family as a shy person and introverted in nature, Aaqib was a football aficionado. A highly ambitious millennial, he left a decent-paying private job in Srinagar and moved to Delhi to pursue better options that matched the standards of his education.
“One of the times we spoke on the phone last month, he opened up and told me that he finally had a good enough job and wants me to take some time off from my business as he can take the load off of me,” said Bhat.
Aware of his responsibilities and ‘just a normal kid’ to everyone around him, he had no psychological issues or any family troubles bothering him, the ‘suicide’ is not only puzzling to those who know him, but also indicates to be contrary to the truth. One of his uncles claimed that he “clearly saw a blunt force trauma on the back of [Aaqib’s] head and there were several other marks on his side. Had he died because of [suicide], he would just have wounds on his neck.”
Also, according to his family, on discovering the deceased’s body, instead of intimidating the police or the hospital right away, the roommate who the family has identified as Megha, had called up two men from Haryana to help her out. Both of the men are currently absconding.
The roommate herself has been under police observation and the family has not been able to get her version of events directly either.
Bhat says there are a lot of inconsistencies with regards to his son’s death and he wants a proper probe to be carried out. “My son has been murdered for reasons unknown. Right now, all I am waiting for is for the post mortem report to come in and validate my suspicion. Either way, I have no doubt about it.”
Currently, he demands an impartial probe to be carried by the Delhi Police and in case they are incapable of doing that he says he will not stop knocking on the doors of the High Court of Delhi or even Supreme Court if the need is till he gets his son the justice he deserves.
“Justice should be served not only for Aaqib’s sake but for all the parents whose children are out there studying or working in different states in India. They should know that the law is on their side and that they are safe.”
Aaqib leaves behind his parents and two siblings, an elder sister and a young brother, both of whom are studying in India.