Updated: January 1, 2017 5:36:17 am
WHEN news that his uncle had passed away reached him on March 19, Mohammad Shahjad Alam was at his madrasa at Mubarakpur in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district. It was only after he returned home to Jharkhand two days later, he says, that he realised what had happened. His uncle, Mohammad Majloom Ansari, 35, and 12-year-old Imtiyaz Khan were lynched, allegedly by a mob of cow vigilantes, at Jhabar village in Jharkhand’s Latehar district, and their bodies strung up on a tree. The two cattle traders, herding oxen to a fair in Hazaribagh, were accused of taking the animals for illegal slaughter.
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“When I returned, all I could see was people in tears. The memories just refuse to fade. I don’t remember any celebrations at home since,” says Alam, sitting in his home at Nawada village, 10 km from Jhabar, where the incident occurred.
Alam and his mother Rabina Bibi, a housewife, live with her father Mohammad Ibrahim. Majloom Ansari is her brother. Alam’s father Mohammad Suleman Ansari works as a labourer in Ahmedabad.
While younger sister Asmina is a Class 10 student at Balumath High School and younger brother Arshad is studying in a government school, Alam’s schooling has been in madrasas for the past eight years.
“I am doing Hafizi, which is equivalent to Class 12 in the normal course. Next, I will study for Alim and, later, can become a maulana,” he says, adding that the madrasa doesn’t charge anything.
He is confident of getting work at a mosque or the madrasa, and isn’t sure if he can get a government job. “Maybe I can. I haven’t really thought about it.”
The family has decided to give up cattle-trading for good. “I know they have been doing this for the past several years. But we now live in fear. I would not want anybody to touch that profession again,” Alam says.
There is another reason for the fear. “No action is being taken against the guilty. Then how are we going to ensure that such an incident is not repeated?”
Alam says his family now fears crossing Jhabar village, from where the accused hail. Police had arrested five of the accused a day after the incident; three others surrendered in court.
Families of both victims also feel let down by the authorities, who approached them with promises. “The only thing I have is a hand-pump outside my house. They had promised a house, a job and we had demanded Rs 50 lakh compensation. The hand-pump apart, nothing has come to us,” says Azad Khan, Imtiyaz’s father.
Majloom’s daughters have got admission at Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, a government-run residential school for girls in Balumath, but the family, demanding a higher compensation, rejected a
Rs 1 lakh offer from the government.
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