Nizamuddin told The Sunday Express that Majloom and he were partners. They bought six oxen from a fair in Latehar three days ago. Another person, Mohammad Azad Khan, who lives in Arahara village, also bought two oxen. Together, they were supposed to sell eight oxen at a cattle fair in Tutilawa in Hazaribagh — it starts the day after Holi.
“We travel on foot with our cattle and that is why we take three-four days to move from one fair to another. On Thursday, Azad Khan’s son Inayatullah joined Majloom at Dumartand (where Majloom lives with his father-in-law). They set out around 3 am for Tutilawa. I asked Majloom to take the cattle up to Balumath, from where I would have taken charge,” Nizamuddin said.
It was not yet dawn when Nizamuddin reached Jhabar which is on the way. “I spotted my cattle. Majloom was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, I heard cries of some persons. They shouted ‘yahi to hai asli vyapaari, pakdo isko’ (he is the real trader, catch him). I was on a motorcycle, so I sped away. I stopped only after I reached Balumath (nearly 14 km from Jhabar). I then began calling his family members to find out about Majloom,” he said.
At his house in Arahara, Azad Khan said: “I sent my son since I had injured my leg. I would have gone to the fair later. He walked to Majloom’s house and left with him early Friday. When I last spoke to Majloom on phone, he told me he was crossing Jhabar. The call got disconnected and the phone was switched off later. I learnt about the incident later.”
Azad said his son was killed because the assailants feared he would identify them. Munnavar Ansari, one of the younger brothers of Majloom, was the first family member to reach the spot where the bodies were found.
“My brother and the boy were hanged with nylon cords which are used to rein in cattle. His mobile phone was missing and I also spotted a broken SIM at the place. The faces of both were covered with gamchhas (towels),” said Munnavar who runs a mobile phone repair shop in his village.