Where will my family go, asks son of victim

October 03, 2015 01:27 am | Updated November 16, 2021 04:11 pm IST - CHENNAI:

“My father has been brutally murdered. My brother is battling for life. My family feels it is unsafe to live here [Dadri],” says Sartaj Saifi, son of Mohammed Akhlaque, who was lynched by a mob at Bishara village in Dadri over alleged rumours of cow slaughter.

Mr. Sartaj, an Indian Air Force technician posted in Chennai for the past year and a half, rushed to Bishara on hearing about the killing of his father. Speaking to The Hindu from Dadri, he says, “My sister Sajida called up and began crying inconsolably. It took a while for me to even comprehend what was happening. I just couldn’t believe they did that to my father and brother,” Mr. Sartraj says.

For decades, the family has been living in peace in village. “Ours is the only Muslim family in the village; all along we would go for functions of our Hindu neighbours and vice versa. But after the incident, not a single person has turned up to see us. Some who planned to visit us also didn’t come in the last minute, perhaps out of fear; that’s the situation here now,” he says.

Mr. Sartaj says that though his family has been living in Dadri for generations, he does not feel confident to leave them there as he joins duty again. “My posting is in Chennai for now; but this may change anytime. Where will I take them? Where will they go?” he asks.

Village in shock

A random conversation with members of the majority community at Bishara gives the impression that this Thakur community-dominated village is yet to get over the shock and guilt of killing one of its residents Akhlaque.

Fear and anxiety still lurks among Muslims who face an uncertain future. Some of them want to leave, while others say they will see what happens next.

Given that most of its Muslim residents have been living for several generations, they don’t want to leave. But some of them point towards shadow of distrust and anxiety looming large over them.

Shakilluzaman Saifi, who works as a supervisor on building construction sites in nearby Noida, has not gone to work since Id. He stays with his wife who is not keen on staying in the village any longer.

“Suddenly it looks very scary. Akhlaque Bhai was regarded as a good man. Despite that, it happened. And for now we don’t know what to do,” he says only to be chided by his wife.

“My wife has been asking me to find a house in Noida only where we can stay and probably come back when things get normal. Initially I was not taking it seriously but I think the atmosphere has become vicious now,” adds Mr. Saifi, a man in his late thirties.

His neighbour, Qasim, is of the opinion that things would get normal.

‘A difficult period’

“It's a difficult period for the entire village. Most of us are disturbed at what happened but let’s see and try to work it out. Leaving is not an option,” Qasim, a mobile vendor in his late twenties, says.

Repeated visits of politicians have not led to any peace.

If there is one family which is sure of leaving the village, it is that of Akhlaque. Askari Begum, who was a witness to her son’s lynching, repeatedly tells presspersons, “You please write that we don’t feel secure here any more. We want the government to shift us out of this place. We don’t want to stay here any more. We would request to be shifted to a Muslim area.”

Anxiety is not only among Muslims but also on the side of Hindus, especially among the family members of the youths who have been arrested for their alleged role in the lynching.

(With inputs from Mohammad Ali from Dadri)

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