In the 2002 riots, Merajbanu Mew reportedly lost her house, which was burnt to the ground. Last week, she lost her son, who was allegedly assaulted by some “gau rakshaks”. “2002 ke toofan ne meri jhopdi jalaa di, aur ab gau raksha-walon ne merey bete ko maar dala (The 2002 riots gutted my house, and now cow vigilantes have taken away my son),” she said on Tuesday.
Merajbanu’s son Mohammed Ayyub, 29, was beaten up, allegedly by a group of cow vigilantes, on September 12 night, on the eve of Bakr Eid. He died in hospital four days later. The police said two calves were found from Ayyub’s car, one of which died on the spot. The police filed three FIRs: against unnamed people for attempt to murder (turned into a case of murder following Ayyub’s death); the second against Ayyub and one Samir Shaikh, who was in the car, under laws dealing with cruelty to animals; and the traffic police lodged the third FIR against Ayub for rash driving. With the family protesting, the investigation was handed over to Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB). Deepan Bhadran, DCP (DCB), said a detailed investigation is on and it is “premature to say anything”.
“Whether Ayyub was carrying calves or not, whether he was innocent or accused, is not the question,” said his aunt, Kherunnisa Mew. “My question is: can you take a man’s life for cows? If Ayyub was doing something illegal, he should have been handed over to the police.”
“Muslims who don’t have their own house, or are in debt, cannot sacrifice on Bakr-Eid. We don’t own a house, and we are under debt,” said Merajbanu. “I have no idea why and for whom he was carrying those calves — if he was carrying them at all.” Merajbanu said they have no idea where Ayyub went on the afternoon of September 12, when he had last gone home. According to Kherunnisa, she called on his cellphone on several occasions but he did not take her calls.
“Next morning (September 13), the police told us Ayyub was in hospital following an accident. We went to VS Hospital — he was unconscious; he never recovered,” Merajbanu said. “I had a jhopdi in Shah-e-Alam area (of Ahmedabad) which was burnt down in the 2002 riots. I shifted to Imdadnagar that year. We have lived here since then,” Merajbanu said. “I worked as a household help to raise my two boys. And now one of them is gone.”
Her husband left them nearly 10 years ago. “And now I will have to raise Ayyub’s wife and two little children,” she said.