Fifteen-year-old Junaid dreamt of becoming the Imam at Jama Masjid, enjoyed playing Ludo on the phone, had a voice that drew people to him and was adored by all his seven siblings – six brothers and one sister. A fatal ride on a Mathura-bound train on Thursday evening, however, extinguished his dreams. What remains is a heartbroken family, struggling to come to terms with his death while running from pillar to post to seek justice.
Born in Khandawli, Junaid is remembered as a “man of books”, “full of laughter and fun”. Sixth of eight siblings, Junaid was the son of Jalaluddin, a taxi driver, but had big dreams for himself.
On Saturday morning, Junaid’s mother, Saira, lay on a bed in a room at the family’s modest home, surrounded by women of the village — all attempting to comfort her as she periodically burst into uncontrollable sobs. “You are a good mother, a sensible mother… God will not let injustice be done … insaaf ho kar rahega”, they said.
According to residents of Khandawli, where Junaid was born and brought up, Saira and Jalaluddin ensured that their children got the best Urdu education they could afford.
Like all his siblings before him, Junaid was sent to a madrasa in Mewat at the age of eight, where he attained his education and learned the ways of his faith. He would return only twice a year, spending about two months with his family annually.
“He was hardly here, but he did not mind because he was very passionate about Islam. He told me ‘Ammi, I will become an Imam at Jama Masjid’, and I reassured him that God would listen to his wishes. How would I know that this would happen?” said his mother.
Junaid’s father, meanwhile, said, “When he would return home, he would go to people’s houses and read the Quran to them. Imagine what a bright future he would have had.”
The last time the couple saw their sixth-born was on Wednesday, when he left home to go to the Masjid. He headed for Delhi straight from the Masjid. “I gave them Rs 1,500 to buy clothes etc for Eid. I was excited to see what they would get. I kept waiting, but all I received was a phone call that informed me that I had lost one son, and could lose two others,” said Saira.
Two days on, his family continues to mourn amid distractions — with one brother admitted at AIIMS, and his father and other siblings being called to the police station every few hours to give statements and complete formalities. Meanwhile, in one of the dingy rooms of the family’s home, Junaid’s copy of the Quran — his “most prized possession” — lies in a corner, never to be read again.