As villagers today wore black bands to protest the killing of a Muslim youth onboard a Mathura-bound train, his elder brother, Hashim, struggled to come to terms with the reality that he would be celebrating this Eid without his sibling.
Despair hung like a shroud over Khandawali village, lying on the outskirts of the national capital, as the family and other locals remained in a state of shock over the brutal killing of their 17-year-old “son” Junaid.
The Muslim residents, who wore black bands during the special morning namaz today, said Eid has lost all its meaning and wondered if “the spate of lynchings” would ever end.
Junaid’s father Jallaludin (55) told reporters that Eid would never be the same for the family.
Though prayers were offered in the morning, no Eid celebrations were held here. The villagers gathered around Jallaludin and other family members, consoling them in their hour of grief.
Reports stated that people also wore black bands at some other places, including Mewat, as a mark of protest against the horrific killing.
Junaid’s cousin, Sanovar Khan, said they had posted about the protest on social media.
Hashim (20) broke down several times as he recalled the fateful Thursday evening when he along with his other siblings boarded the train from Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar after finishing Eid shopping.
“They killed him in cold blood. All of a sudden, a group of 20-25 persons who had boarded the train from Okhla station pushed my brother Junaid and he fell down,” he recalled, his voice choking with emotion.
“When Junaid and I asked why they were pushing, they pointed to the skull cap on my head. They said we are Muslims, anti-nationals, Pakistanis, that we eat beef. Then they pulled my cap, threw it down and they also tried to pull my beard,” he said.
Jallaludin, while trying to console Hashim, dismissed the police’s claim that Junaid was killed because of a dispute over the sharing of a seat.
“Junaid had, in fact, vacated a seat for an elderly person. The seat theory is being cooked up as an excuse. The incident is purely communal in nature and my son was targeted because of his religious identity,” he said.
“We offered namaaz but we won’t celebrate the festival. We want those responsible for our son’s death to be punished,” he said when asked about the ‘black Eid’ in the village.
Jallaludin, when asked if anyone from the Haryana government had met family yet, said, “Not even a lower rank official of the state government has visited us, what to say about the chief minister. We have not even heard anybody from the government condemning the incident.”
The also villagers who sat in protest with the grieving family.
Shakeel, a resident of Khandawli in Ballabgarh near Delhi, told reporters, “We could not have celebrated Eid with the usual sense of joy considering how Junaid was killed. So we decided to mark our protest by wearing black bands around our arms.”
“When will this stop? After every such incident, the government offers some compensation and people move on. But the question is, will it ever stop?” asked a villager in his 20s.
He also questioned the efficacy of the administration in acting against the accused, wondering why only one arrest had been made in four days.
The police had yesterday announced a reward of Rs one lakh for credible information leading to the arrest of other accused in the case.
The family was yesterday given a cheque for Rs 5 lakh by the District Red Cross while Wakf Board chairman announced another Rs 5 lakh and a job to one of Jallaludin’s sons.
Junaid was stabbed to death while his brothers, Hashim and Sakir–were injured by a mob which also allegedly hurled slurs against them onboard the Delhi-Mathura passenger train between Ballabgarh and Mathura stations on Thursday night.
The arrested accused, before being remanded to police custody by a court in Faridabad district earlier, had told reporters that he was in an inebriated state at the time of the incident and attacked the teenager on being allegedly instigated by fellow passengers.