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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Journalist Vikram Joshi’s murder by his niece’s stalker Shahnoor Mansuri and others must jolt us all

Journalist Vikram Joshi who was beaten and shot in the head in front of his two daughters on Monday, succumbed to the injuries on Wednesday at Yashoda hospital in Ghaziabad. He was shot by a gang led by one Shahnoor Mansuri for lodging a police complaint on 16th July against Mansuri’s harassment & stalking of his niece.

Vikram Joshi

Vikram Joshi worked for daily newspaper Jan Sagar Today and had lodged a complaint at Vijaynagar police station against miscreants who were sexually harassing his niece. The girl was being continuously targeted for 2-3 years and the first police complaint was lodged by the family 1.5 years ago. But police inaction emboldened the accused and they continued harassing the girl whenever she would step outside her house.

At this point, the girl’s maternal uncle Vikram again lodged a complaint in Vijaynagar police station on 16th July naming Mansuri and two others, but as per the Joshi family, police still refused to take any serious action and tried to portray the matter as a fight over gambling in the area. The accused now started threatening the family, especially Vikram.

On 20 July, as Vikram was going to his sister’s home along with his two daughters to celebrate his niece’s birthday, the accused waylaid him in an ambush. In a preplanned manner, the assailants came on three scooties and pushed & felled him from his bike. Vikram’s young daughters, one barely 5-6 years old, ran away in terror. After beating him up, Mansuri allegedly shot him at point blank range.

The whole incident was captured on CCTV and hardly lasted 15 seconds before the culprits ran away leaving mortally wounded Vikram and his crying elder daughter on the road. Later, he was rushed to hospital where doctors deemed his condition extremely serious. On 22 July, he breathed his last.

The accused, total 10 in number have been identified from testimonies of witnesses and Joshi family and booked under Sections 307, 34, 506 of India Penal Code (IPC). Nine of them including Shahnoor Mansuri aka Chhotu, Ravi, Mohit, Dalveer, Akash, Shaquir, Abhishek, Yogendra, and Abhishek have been arrested while one key accused named Akash Bihari is absconding.

As per ANI News, a pistol of .315 bore, a live cartridge and an empty shell have been recovered from Shahnoor. This pistol is being sent for forensic lab to determine if it is the same weapon that was used in the murder.

According to Vikram’s nephew, Shahnoor s/o Kamal-ud-Din was the prime culprit who had been harassing his sister while others were part of his gang who helped in the murder. Speaking to press, the deceased’s brother Aniket Joshi said “A few men were harassing our niece a few days ago and my brother had opposed it and also filed a police complaint. A case was also registered following which he was shot at by those miscreants.”

Vikram’s sister has squarely blamed police for her brother’s murder. Speaking to ANI News she said “Police planned the murder of my brother. The chowki in charge was responsible. We demand on the spot decision” 

Grieving Family

In the whole incident, the inaction on part of local police has pointed towards their laxity if not complicity with criminals. This is despite having strict guidelines from Yogi government regarding controlling crimes against women. Within two days of forming his government, Yogi Adityanath had started work on creating ‘anti-Romeo Squads‘ as promised in his poll manifesto. At the time, various left-liberal and political factions had mocked or belittled this idea but citizens on ground, specially women of Western Uttar Pradesh, had appreciated the need of such an enterprise.

The anti-Romeo squads did help by regularly patrolling sensitive areas, identifying known offenders and instilling confidence in girls to come forward and report cases of misdemeanours. But with time, the enthusiasm seems to have dimmed and elements of the police, either because of deep-rooted lackadaisical attitude or for greed, do not implement the policies on the ground as was seen in this case.

As the complaints against errant Pratap Vihar Police station’s in-charge Raghvendra came to light, he has been suspended and a departmental inquiry has been initiated against him. The grieving family has been promised Rs. 10 lakh monetary compensation and assurance of justice in the case.

However, while media outlets like The Print play their usual games by identifying the prime accused only by his nickname ‘Chotu‘, ordinary citizens need to ask themselves why such incidents are happening time and again in places like Delhi-NCR, Mewat, West UP?

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