Yet to get "martyr status", compensation from Centre: Slain IB Officer Ankit Sharma’s brother
Sharma was one of the victims of the Delhi riots. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders such as Kapil Mishra were quick to exploit the slain IB officer’s name to spread more hatred. On Monday, while the Delhi Government cabinet approved the compensation of Rs 1 crore for Sharma’s family, his brother told Asiaville, “We want the Central government to recognise my brother as a martyr.”
February is considered the month of love. But for Delhi, this year, it was the month of blood. In February 2020, the national capital witnessed its worst communal riots over the past 36 years. Soon after the riots began in North East Delhi, the number of casualties started to grow. By the time the situation was contained by the paramilitary forces, the communal mobs had already claimed 53 lives. All these murders were converted into mere numbers. For people in general, they had no identity – no faces beyond being a Hindu or a Muslim.
However, the death of a 26-year-old officer attached to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) stood out. IB officer Ankit Sharma’s body was recovered from a drain barely a few metres away from his house in Chand Bagh.
Two months later, on May 4, the Delhi Government officially identified Sharma as a martyr and approved a compensation of Rs 1 crore for his family. His brother Ankur Sharma said that the Centre is yet to do so.
Ankur told Asiaville that the Sharma family also wants the Central Government to recognise his brother as a martyr, and honour the family accordingly. They also said that although they have been allotted compensation by the Delhi Government, they also want to be compensated by the Centre.
It becomes even more important because Sharma was a Central Government employee and not a Delhi Government employee. Notably, right after the Delhi riots, the Hindutva fringe and some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders exploited Sharma’s death to further fan the flames of communal polarisation and hatred.
Back in February, on the day his body was recovered, Sharma’s father Ravinder Sharma had shared how his son could never return home after he stepped out on the evening of February 25th to check the on-going communal violence in his neighbourhood. Ravinder Sharma himself is an IB officer. The family has made accusations against the accomplices of the local Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain, saying that they were involved in Sharma’s murder.
Sharma's murder was used to fan polarisation
News of Sharma’s death was used as fresh ammunition by BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra, who spread hatred in his name.
Mishra, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2020 Delhi assembly polls on the BJP ticket, had accused Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of “not getting time to visit” Sharma’s house. He had tweeted out an unverified video of “Sharma’s body being dumped into the drain”. Another BJP leader Sambit Patra claimed that the slain IB officer had sustained over 400 cuts on his body and that “his intestines were ripped apart”.
It is important to note, according to the post-mortem report, that Sharma’s body had sustained 51 injuries, of which 33 were from blunt weapons.
On Monday, the Arvind Kejriwal government approved the compensation of Rs 1 crore for Sharma’s family. The compensation approved by the cabinet was done under the Delhi government’s scheme to honour the martyrs.
Mishra was again quick to jump the gun and claim that the “pressure mounted by them” was the reason for the Kejriwal government giving the compensation to the IB officer’s family.
“Want the Centre to recognise my brother as a martyr”
However, the slain officer’s family has a different story to share.
“The delay in approving the compensation is possibly because of the Coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown. Kejriwal ji has taken the right decision to help our family,” Ankur told Asiaville. “We have lost our brother. He was martyred and nothing can replace this void. However, the financial help extended by the (Delhi) government will prove helpful for the family. Today and in the days to come.”
The family is satisfied with the progress of the investigation being conducted by the Delhi Police's special investigation team.
When asked about the help extended by the Central Government, Ankur replied, “We wanted the Central government to recognise my brother as a martyr. The Centre is yet to do so. They should honour our family accordingly.”
He further added, “We have received several assurances from them but we are yet to get any financial relief from the Centre.” He said that Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan had assured the family that the Centre would help them.
“The IB officers are on duty round the clock. They are called in whenever the office wishes to. My brother was martyred in the line of duty and the IB has accepted it on its letter. So has the Union Home Ministry,” Ankur said.
“Humara bhaii bhi desh ke liye shaheed hua hai. Kendra sarkaar use bhi baaki shaheedon ki tarah samman de (My brother was martyred in the line of duty. He should be treated like other martyrs.) The Central Government should provide financial relief to our family, in the same manner, it honours other martyrs.”
The family is hopeful that post lockdown, the Centre might act upon their request and compensate the family accordingly. They are satisfied with the Delhi Police’s investigation so far and are hopeful for a swift judgement as all “evidences were recorded in the court and media has shown the reality”.
Ankur hopes justice will be delivered soon. However, he declined to comment on the politicisation of his brother's death by a certain section of leaders.
The Delhi BJP President's office declined to comment on the issue, saying that the matter pertains to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), adding that Manoj Tiwari, in his personal capacity, has already extended his support to the family.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has attacked the BJP over the issue. AAP MP Sanjay Singh told Asiaville, "The MHA should recognise Ankit Sharma as a martyr and help the family. And the BJP leaders, instead of shedding crocodile tears, should come forward to help the martyr's family and ensure they get the compensation".
Small-time Hindu nationalist leaders such as Mishra are claiming credit for ‘forcing’ the Kejriwal government to approve the compensation for Sharma’s family. However, they continue to stay silent when it comes to the Central Government.