BENGALURU, Karnataka — Ten people have been arrested in the murder case of 24-year-old Arbaz Aftab Mullah, who was allegedly beheaded for being in an interfaith relationship with a Hindu woman, sources in the Karnataka Police have told us.
The decapitated body of Arbaz was found on a railway track in Karnataka’s Belagavi district on 28 September.
Among the ten arrested are Pundalik Mutgekar, a member of Sri Ram Sene Hindustan, an extremist group, and the parents of the woman, who were interrogated for over five days, sources said.
The woman’s parents – Susheela Eerappa and Eerappa Basavanni – arranged with Mutgekar to kill Arbaz, according to the police.
Later in a press conference, Laxman Nimbargi, Belagavi district superintendent of police, said that the motive of the murder is that Arbaz was in a love with a girl named Shwetha.
“Even after mediation, the issue did not settle down, and on 28th, the murder was done,” he said. “We have arrested 10 people and the investigation is still going on.”
Last week, relatives of Arbaz Mullah told us that his family had tried dissuading him from being in an interfaith relationship, and now their worst fears had been realized.
The family accused the extremist organization Sri Ram Sene Hindustan, and the woman’s family, of murdering Arbaz on 28 September.
The Karnataka Police had registered a case of murder under Section 302 of the India Penal Code against the complaint made by Arbaz’s mother Najeema Sheikh. Her complaint had mentioned Pundalik Mutgekar, Birje, his right-hand man, and the woman’s father.
Last week, Irfan Talikoti, a relative of Arbaz Mullah, told us that Najeema Sheikh, who lost her husband three years ago, was in touch with the woman’s mother, and they were trying to break the couple up.
Arbaz was receiving threatening calls from Ram Sene, Talikoti said, and the extremists summoned the family for a meeting on 26 September, where Arbaz was told to delete photos of the woman and throw away his SIM card.
Talikoti alleged that Pundalik Mutgekar demanded money for a truce, but the threats persisted, and eventually Arbaz was murdered on 28 September.
Talikoti said that Arbaz was a civil engineering graduate who worked as a car dealer. His sister is an engineer who lives in London. He said that Najeema Sheikh was planning to go to Dubai and she was in goa for passport-related work on the day that her son was killed.
“They did everything possible to dissuade Arbaz from the relationship, even moving houses,” he said. “But they continued to talk to each other. They were about to get registered married. Documents were ready.”
Faisal Sheikh, Arbaz’s cousin, said, “I hope the police gets the facts right and makes headway into the case. We have lost my brother but I hope this doesn’t happen to others. This type of moral policing should stop, else more lives will be lost.”