THE family members of Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched in Dadri’s Bisara village over beef rumours, met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Sunday. If they felt reassured, it didn’t last long.
As they waited to go home soon after, playing on the television at the residence of Samajwadi Party MLC Ashu Malik in Lucknow was controversial BJP MLA Sangeet Som’s speech at their village, accusing the Akhilesh government of “helping cow slaughterers”.
Akhlaq’s brother Afzal turned to Malik and said, “We do not wish to go back or live in that village. Please make arrangements somewhere else.”
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As Malik asked them if they had any relatives, Afzal asked how living with anyone could be a permanent solution. “With or without security, we do not want to live in that village. Watching the news channels and statements of these leaders has made us more afraid to go back. People there are not the same as they used to be.” Akhlaq’s 18-year-old daughter Shaista added, “That village failed to protect us.”
Akhlaq’s mother, 82-year-old Asgari Begum, who met Akhilesh at his residence along with Afzal and Shaista, earlier told The Indian Express she wanted to leave, “even though memories of my husband are attached to that house”.
Malik offered to accommodate the family in his house in Muradnagar (Ghaziabad) for the time being. “Otherwise, all the security arrangements have been made in your village. The choice is yours,” he said.
The SP government could also provide them alternative accommodation, he added.
After his meeting with Akhlaq’s family members, the Chief Minister too promised the same. “We have assured them all the help they want. If they want any arrangement to live or some job, the government will help them,” Akhilesh said, while appealing for harmony.
For the third time, the CM hiked the financial assistance to the family, to Rs 30 lakh, besides announcing Rs 5 lakh each to the three brothers of Akhlaq.
“We cannot bring back what they have lost, but we can share their sorrow and tell them that the guilty would be punished severely,” Akhilesh told mediapersons. Accusing “forces” of “doing politics” and trying to disturb peace and harmony since the SP came to power in the state, he added, “We do not know who has mixed poison in their lives.”
Leaving for the airport later, from where they flew to Delhi and then drove home, Afzal again wondered where they would settle now.
“We do not know what is happening,” he added. “All we want is justice. That is why we came here today.”