Juvenile offender to hate speech: The Jamia gunman’s path | Noida News


NOIDA: In January last year, a few months short of his 18th birthday, a 17-year-old boy had showed up near Jamia Millia Islamia with a gun and fired at Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters.
He was booked for attempt to murder and under sections of the Arms Act, but since he was a minor, he was taken into protective custody.
Sources said the boy was later given bail after an assurance from him and his family that he was “repentant” and had been “misled”. But the path he has taken since he attained freedom doesn’t suggest so.
Last week, at a mahapanchayat in Pataudi, he called for attacks on the Muslim community. Since then, the pseudonym he uses has trended as a social media hashtag.
The rabid espousal of hatred has almost been uniformly denounced or disowned across the ideological divide of political opinion. But it doesn’t seem to have mattered for the 19-year-old. In a video doing the rounds of Twitter, the boy says he stands by his words. And repeats them. A support hashtag has trended on cue.
A ‘fan page’ on Instagram gives glimpses into a life very different from that of the Class XI student who had set out from his house in a Gautam Budh Nagar village on January 30 last year and shot into infamy.
The boy is seen among cars, strutting to background scores and seated behind an office desk. The latest posts are screenshots that show him trending above the coronavirus’s kappa variant and promotions of Farhan Akhtar’s latest film.
That’s not, however, attestation of an organic popularity of his opinion – another post specifies the date and time to ‘supporters’ to tweet in his favour (a video purportedly featuring the boy had also surfaced on social media in which he is heard saying his social media accounts have been banned, an arrest hashtag was trending on Twitter, and that his “followers” should respond by turning the support hashtag into a trend).
His fanatic views, allegedly aired in several mediums, are also recorded on the fan page as is a note alleging police denial of permission for a proposed march to West Bengal ahead of the assembly polls there earlier this year. One post marking a year of the Jamia shooting — which took place on Martyrs Day (January 30) — describes the boy as the second Nathuram Godse.
“He is into netagiri now. Elders too support him,” said Satish, who lives in the same neighbourhood as the boy. The boy’s family stresses its distance from him, claiming he no longer lives with them and is an infrequent visitor. In a video on social media, however, the boy is seen wearing a garland as he is welcomed to the village. In the crowd are both neighbours and relatives.
The boy’s grandfather confirmed to TOI he was out on bail and had even enrolled in a BA programme at an open university.
“He studies at the Ghaziabad centre of the university. He is inter pass. He comes home sometimes,” he says. His father, however, said the boy had been mostly staying in Delhi and elsewhere and did not discuss his whereabouts with him. The family, he insisted, had “no links” with him.
Local youths, however, keep regular track of him on social media and WhatsApp groups.
“He is very active on social media. He had gone to Rajasthan and uploaded a video on Instagram about it,” said Satish. While local outfits, including the Bajrang Dal unit, denied any association with him, youths in the area said he had patronage. “He seems to be only into Bajrang Dal. He is the main person here,” said a local resident, who declined to be named. On WhatsApp groups that connect local Bajrang Dal supporters, videos of the boy are widely shared.
Lalit Sharma, Gautam Budh Nagar president of Bajrang Dal, told TOI that the outfit does not support anyone who violates the Constitution.
“Ever since the BJP government has come to office, there are so many youths who use the flags of our outfits without knowing anything about the outfits,” he said.
The boy’s cousin is a mandal secretary of BJP in Gautam Budh Nagar. He told TOI that the boy has no connection with the party.
“We have tried to explain to him many times, but his thoughts have become completely ‘Hindutvawadi’ and he remains involved in those activities only,” he said.

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