A cab driver from Delhi was found dead in his car while coming home after dropping a passenger in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr on Sunday. His family alleged he was made to chant "Jai Shri Ram" before he was killed by some passengers who he had picked up in the UP town on his way back.
The Maruti Suzuki Dzire compact sedan was found by a police patrol in Greater Noida's Badalpur, 57 km from Delhi. The police have denied any communal angle in the death of the 45-year-old cab driver, Aftab Amal.
After dropping a passenger in Bulandshahr, Mr Amal picked up three people in the return leg. At some point during the drive, Mr Amal called home using his mobile phone, his son Sabir said.
Sabir said he felt something was wrong and so he decided to record the call.
"Papa must have felt these people were not good, so he rang me and kept his phone aside in the car, with the call still active. Then I started recording. 7-8 minutes into the call they are heard telling papa to chant 'Jai Shri Ram', which he did... They made him stop the car, then killed him. They did not loot him. There is not a scratch in the car. The wallet was not stolen," Sabir said.
The police have denied any communal angle in the killing of the cab driver. They said an argument broke out over the ride fare, which escalated and led to the killing.
The police said the accused said "Jai Shri Ram" in a manner of greeting to a roadside peanut hawker when the vehicle stopped somewhere on the way to Delhi.
"As far the 'Jai Shree Ram' chant is concerned, the passengers were drinking and they were talking to a peanut hawker. That conversation is not between the cab driver and the people sitting in the car," Central Noida Deputy Commissioner of Police Harish Chandra said.
"The entire audio clip is 40 minutes long. After saying 'Jai Shri Ram', the people in the cab spoke for some time and the conversation seemed to be going well. They sounded like they were having fun and laughing among themselves," Mr Chandra said.
No one has been identified as the accused or arrested yet. The police are checking CCTV footage from a toll booth on National Highway 91 to try to identify the cab passengers. The Noida Police have transferred the case to the police in Bulandshahr as the accused boarded the cab from there.