It was an iftaar gathering that hosted guests who have become faces of the struggle of a particular community. They were: Irshad Khan, son of Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer who was lynched in Alwar in Rajasthan this April; Azmat Khan who was beaten up by the lynch mob along with Pehlu Khan; Jaan Mohammad, brother of Mohammad Akhlaq who was lynched in Dadri in October 2015 on suspicion of storing beef; and Fatima Nafees, the mother of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed who went missing from the campus in October last year following an alleged tiff with members of the ABVP.
Organised by Students’ Islamic Organisation (SIO) at its headquarters in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, on Wednesday, the gathering discussed the growing communal violence as well as the rise in mob lynchings across the country. Azmat Khan said the central, as well as the state governments, had been silent on the incident in which Pehlu Khan was killed by an angry right-wing Hindu mob that accused him of carrying cattle for slaughter. “The government has till date not come forward to offer any help. No one has approached us. In fact, the six accused who we believe are backed by BJP-RSS were allowed to walk free. No one has arrested them.”
Lamenting on the complacency of the state government, Irshad added, “Our identity has been robbed, our faith has been lost and we’ve been robbed of our money. To top it all, a court case has been filed against us, even though we were carrying legal documents for the purchased cattle”.
A teary-eyed Fatima Nafees spoke about how the police had been inefficient in finding her son. “It has been over eight months since my child disappeared and I still don’t know where he is. The police are not for our security, instead, it is there to beat us up and torture us. The police is responsible for the fact that my son is not with me today.”
She said when she approached the police station to file a complaint, the officers did not allow her to write down the names of the accused – names which Najeeb had shared with her. “I was promised that they would find my son within 24 hours if I wrote a report which suited them…Till date, however, none of the accused has been arrested and I still don’t know where my son is.” Nafees said she will continue to fight. “We will continue to take to the streets and protest. We will continue to fight against the torture. I just hope my son is well. What else can I say? I have nothing to offer but tears.” Commenting on the mounting communal tension and the emergence of self-proclaimed gaurakshaks, Jaan Mohammad said: “Nowadays it feels as though it is less scary to have a lion standing in front of you, than a cow standing behind you.”