Headlines can be great for condensing a story, but a simple summary can’t always say everything. Take the one I wrote for this article. It’s not too different from that of a Times of India article on the same subject (“Blaming Friend for Throat Cancer, Man Kills Him”). However, Mustakeem Ahmad’s motives for murder are far more complicated, and the story has more twists than that key irony.
(Note: Hindustan Times reported the victim’s name only as Inayat, while TOI reported it only as Anaytullah. The latter seems to be more common as a surname, so this article will refer to him as such.)
The story begins eighteen months ago in West Delhi, India. At the time, Ahmad worked as a chef at his brother-in-law’s restaurant, Mullaji Biryani Center. His in-law then hired Anaytullah, who was 24 years old at the time, just like Ahmad. They became fast friends, and at some point, started smoking cigarettes and marijuana together. Ahmad later claimed that he had never smoked before meeting Anaytullah.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Police Shibesh Singh, tensions grew between the cooks a time went on. Singh told reporters that Anaytullah “was reportedly better at his job and well-behaved, and soon became the favorite of the restaurant owner.” That’s right: Ahmad’s own brother-in-law preferred his friend over him. He did not take it well.
Now comes the cancer part. Ahmad consulted a doctor about a recently contracted throat infection, which turned out to be far worse. The doctor cited “excessive smoking” as the cause of his cancer. None of my research sources explained how a 25-year-old man can get throat cancer after less than one-and-a-half years of smoking. However, the fact remains that he developed the disease and blamed Anaytullah.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, HT added, “Amid all this” – presumably referring to both the cancer and the feud – “Ahmad’s work quality deteriorated and he was removed from his job.” (The Independent took this to mean he was fired, though neither HT nor TOI expressly stated this.)
After the Cancer Diagnosis
This seemed to be the last straw. Upon returning to his hometown in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, Ahmad bought a gun and practiced shooting.
On August 24, Ahmad returned to the restaurant and demanded that his brother-in-law fire Inayat. He said no. Ahmad then started arguing with Anaytullah, who was also there. During the argument, he shot him and fled the scene. Police found Inayat in a pool of his own blood, and he was proclaimed dead after being taken to a hospital.
All that was prologue, but the epilogue is dramatic in its own right. Police spent that night and the following day searching, without luck, in places Ahmad was known to frequent. Then they received word that he was on his way to Uttam Nagar, where a relative would give him the money he needed to flee India. There was a police trap, then a chase, then an arrest 24 hours after the shooting.
It was only on the 27th that Ahmad’s story became public. As I wrote earlier, most news sources – again, including myself – used a single aspect of it as the hook. But sometimes, the deeper you dig into the truth, the more sensational and harrowing it gets.
Ahmad might be surprised to learn that some believe marijuana can cure cancer. Here’s an article about a study with this conclusion.