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Muzaffarnagar riots: Father grieving death of son pulled Meerut back from brink

The plea is believed to have made a huge difference and prevented communal bloodshed.

It was an extraordinary appeal when Rakesh Kaushik,a priest whose 15-year-old son had been killed by suspected Muslims at the height of the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar,urged hundreds of angry Hindus seeking revenge to calm down and remain peaceful. Also Read: Tales of tragedy and destruction unfold in refugee camps

That plea is believed to have made a huge difference and prevented communal bloodshed in Meerut even as it was beginning to feel the heat of the Jat-Muslim riots in neighbouring Muzaffarnagar.

And even though it was subsequently found that Rakesh’s son’s killing was a criminal act and had nothing to do with the religious conflict,the state government has,in recognition of his rare gesture,gone ahead and given him the Rs 10 lakh it had announced as compensation assuming his son was a riot victim. Also Read: Father grieving death of son pulled Meerut back from brink

Karan Kaushik,a class 11 student,was allegedly brutally beaten with a shovel and killed by Salman,Shoaib and Soni on September 10. Karan had sold his mobile phone to them and they owed him Rs 800. Karan got into a scrap with them when they refused to pay and ended up dead.

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However,when his body was discovered buried in a pre-dug grave in the Shah Vilayat graveyard that evening,neither the police nor the Kaushik family knew he was the victim of a crime. Word spread and rumours swirled that the religious violence had reached Meerut and Karan had become a victim. Photos: Scared villagers continue to move to safer areas

Hundreds of angry Hindus gathered outside the Kaushik residence in lane number two of Subhash Nagar,shouting “lash ke badle lash”(a body for a body). Shops closed early,people rushed home and the city wore a deserted look.

Fearing that the mob would get violent,nervous district authorities asked Rakesh,employed in a Vrindavan temple,to appeal for calm. And the weeping father agreed and addressed the crowd through a police microphone.

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I have lost my son but what are you people doing? Your act will neither bring my son back nor will it console my grieving family. Please maintain peace and live like brothers or else the city will be ruined,Rakesh said.

The appeal,made as Karan’s body was lying inside the house,waiting to be taken to be cremated,is said to have had its effect on the mob which was carrying stones,raising religious slogans and baying for blood. It dispersed peacefully in a while.

Police,who had rounded up Salman and Shoaib for questioning based on some leads given by Karan’s grandfather,later in the night established that they had allegedly killed him over the mobile phone payment. Soni was arrested the next day.

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“We had announced the compensation the same evening but later found that the boy’s killing was an act of crime and had nothing to do with the riots”,district magistrate Navdeep Rinwa told The Indian Express.

But his father’s act had no parallel considering the fact that his son was killed on the same day and his body was lying in the house. I requested that the compensation that had been announced be given from the chief minister’s discretionary fund to honour the father and the government agreed,he said.

What the boy’s father and family did at that time to support the police and the administration to maintain peace was extremely commendable.

First published on: 26-09-2013 at 10:32:14 pm
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