The killing of a Delhi-based cab driver allegedly by passengers on a highway in Greater Noida during a journey from Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr was a criminal act and not a hate crime, the police have said. They said the case was being transferred to Bulandshahr Police as the matter was related to that district.
Aftab Alam, 45, died in Badalpur on Sunday allegedly after he was attacked by unidentified people who boarded his cab from Bulandshahr, according to the police.
However, Mr Alam's son Mohammed Sabir alleged his father was killed in a hate crime, citing an audio clip of a purported phone conversation with his father on Sunday evening.
In the audio, one of the cab passengers is heard saying "bol (say) Jai Shri Ram" to someone, with Mr Sabir claiming it was his father who was asked to chant it.
It was a criminal act and did not have any communal angle as was being claimed, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central Noida, Harish Chander said, adding a worker at a CNG station was asked by one of the passengers to chant the slogan.
"It has emerged during investigation that the cab driver was not asked to chant Jai Shri Ram. It was said to somebody else. We have found that the cab had stopped at a filling station. A worker at the filling station had injuries on his hand. The passengers said something to indicate towards his injury mark. This can be heard in the audio clip as well," Mr Chander said.
"Then the passengers asked the worker how he got injured, to which they were told it was a birthmark. These passengers then offered to give him extra money, which the worker refused. This worker was then asked by one of the passengers to chant Jai Shri Ram," Mr Chander said.
The officer who is supervising the probe said the filling station worker confirmed it to the police and said that nothing of this sort was asked of the cab driver.
"This clears that the death of the cab driver is an outcome of a criminal act and not related to communal angle," Mr Chander said.
After nearly three days, the police are yet to identify the culprits. Officials earlier said Mr Alam, who was found injured in his cab on a highway and died at a hospital later, had an argument over fare with the passengers.
An FIR has been filed with Badalpur police station for murder.