7 sisters fled mob,’father didn’t make it’

‘We were locked inside... couldn’t see what was happening to him’.

Written by Manu Pubby | Basikala | Published:September 11, 2013 1:52 am

‘We were locked inside… couldn’t see what was happening to him’.

Barely a hundred yards from the ground where eight graves are being dug in this village is a madrasa that houses dozens who were witness to the final moments of the victims of the clashes. This Muslim-dominated village has become the focal point for the minority population in the region — several hundred have taken shelter since Saturday and most are determined not to leave anytime soon.

Several sheltered here have not only lost family members but have seen other families torn apart by the mob violence that enveloped the region. Among them is Reshma,18,one of the seven daughters of Mohammed Fayyaz whose house in neighbouring Kutba village was burnt down Sunday morning.

“After we heard the slogans and mobs moving around,we all went to a house near the mosque for shelter. Our father could not make it. The men locked us in and we couldn’t see what was happening to him,” the teenager recalls,holding the hand of a younger sister who seems not to have realised the loss.

The man who saw Fayyaz’s last moments was a neighbour,Mohamed Yakub. “He was lynched,his house was burnt down and his body chopped. All we could do was try and protect with bricks and stones the house we were in,” he says.

A labourer,Fayyaz was the sole breadwinner of the family and would travel outside the village for work at least six months in a year. “Now the family’s house is burnt,the breadwinner gone,” says Yakub,who is gathering clothes and food from locals to sustain the family.

Shaquat Shafi of Kutba recalls the slogans that first warned them trouble was coming. “We heard things like ‘You are not welcome here’. It was after the morning prayers at the mosque that the trouble started,” he says.

The eyewitness accounts are of brutal murders with knives,swords and sticks. Even children were not spared. The Army rescued a six-year-old boy who was being beaten with sticks on a rooftop in Kutba,but by then four had already been killed. “The house we were in had been surrounded from all sides. As three people ran for cover to our side,the killing started. One woman was first slashed by a sword and then shot in the head. Others were beaten to death,” Shafi says.

At Basikala,Arshad Khan was at a cycle shop when a mob armed with swords took a swipe at him. “They tried to slash me across the chest but I put my hand out. Two fingers were cut but I survived,” says Khan,who has helping out at the madrasa.

“After attacking me,they moved to the other end of the street where a woman was on a rickshaw. They stabbed her,leading to death on the spot. What was most hurtful was the slogans they were using,” says Khan,who runs a small garment business in Delhi but was visiting his home when the violence started.

More than 700 Muslims are taking shelter in this village,with no indication when they can return home. “They are all very,very scared here. Most say that they never want to go back again. They have seen killing with their own eyes. This area has never witnessed anything like this in at least four decades as far as I know,” says Haji Mursalin,the Basikala village pradhan.

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