When Ankrit, a Hindu, was murdered by a Muslim couple for dating their daughter, his father chose love over anger
It was Thursday last week when the unexpected visitors climbed the stairs to Yashpal Saxena’s one room home in west Delhi.
Saxena offered the couple tea but they declined. After 45 minutes, they left and Saxena and his wife Kamlesh began preparing dinner for their son Ankit, 23, who was expected home any moment. But he never came. At 8pm, screams erupted outside their Raghubir Nagar home.
Neighbours called them to come down. There was a melee on the main road. Saxena and Kamlesh rushed 200 metres from their door to find Ankit frightened and surrounded by attackers.
As they tried to pull their son away, Kamlesh fell. Saxena turned his back on Ankit to help his wife. “When I turned back, they had pinned him down and slit his throat. In seconds, he was lifeless. They killed him.”
Ankit’s death was a so-called “honour killing”. The alleged attackers, now under arrest, were the same people who had visited Saxena’s house earlier. They were a Muslim couple and were upset that their daughter Shehzadi was being courted by Ankit, a Hindu. They had visited Saxena to demand he tell his son to end the relationship. After leaving the house, they were joined by their son and a male relative. They soon spotted Ankit and confronted him.
Such killings are becoming more common in India, increasing from 28 reported incidents in 2014 to 251 in 2015, according to latest data.
Also commonplace was the response of politicians and members of rightwing Hindu groups who trooped through the alley to Saxena’s house in the hope of making political capital from the murder of a young Hindu lad by a Muslim.
But what happened next changed the script and turned Saxena into something of a hero.