‘Never thought I’d be a hate crime victim’

Kazeem Ahmad at his home in Delhi's Zakir Nagar  

Resting on a bed at his modest house in south Delhi’s Zakir Nagar, 62-year-old Kazeem Ahmad Sherwani still trembles while recalling the incident when he was allegedly waylaid, thrashed and looted by four persons in Noida earlier this year.

“I had read about incidents of hate crimes against Muslims but never thought I would be a victim one day... They (accused) brutally thrashed me and broke my nose with a screwdriver... I still experience body pain due to the incident,” Mr. Sherwani, who runs a ration shop, told The Hindu.

On July 4, Mr. Sherwani, on his way to Aligarh to attend a nephew’s wedding, was waiting for a bus at Noida’s Sector 37 bus stand around 8 p.m. when a van, carrying four persons, stopped and offered him a lift. “I tried to get into the empty seat in the middle row but they signalled me to move to the back row where two persons were already sitting,” he said.

Soon, Mr. Sherwani said he started feeling anxious and wanted to get out of the vehicle. “They looked suspicious so I asked them to let me out of the vehicle but suddenly one of the guys shut all the windows and they started assaulting me... they pulled my beard, snatched all the cash I had and started abusing my religion,” Mr. Sherwani recalled.

Held captive

After being held captive in the van for 15 minutes, Mr. Sherwani was dumped at an unknown spot. “They left me stranded in the middle of nowhere... I could not understand anything as I was heavily injured and bleeding,” he said. He was rescued by a passerby and taken to the Noida Sector 37 police station where he claimed that police officers asked for his basic information but “refused to get him medical help and get his MLC (medicolegal case) done”. Thereafter, Mr. Sherwani was taken to his niece, who is a doctor, and treated for his injuries.

Mr. Sherwani claimed that police officers, despite visiting his house, refused to take his written complaint and said he was “politicising a non-issue”. He has now moved the Supreme Court, asking for action against the “erring officers” and seeking compensation for victims of hate crime.

When contacted, a senior police officer from Noida Sector 37 police station refused to comment on the case.

“Before the incident, I used to travel alone everywhere but now I am scared to go out as my attire might attract undue attention ,” Mr. Sherwani lamented. “Even though the incident has left me traumatised, I will continue to wear a skullcap as it is a sign of my religion and I consider it supreme... I will wear it even if I get killed,” he said.

Mr. Sherwani said his neighbours have stood by him after the incident and he hopes the Supreme Court will give him justice.

“Moving a petition was the only option I had and I am sure the judiciary will punish the perpetrators who had targeted me simply because I am a Muslim.”

A Division Bench of the apex court has tagged his petition with other writ petitions dealing with hate crimes and will hear the matter on December 3.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 11:43:21 PM |

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