Other States

Victims are being branded culprits, says Akhlaq’s son

Over a year has passed but the pointed scar on Danish Saifi's forehead remains a repeated reminder of the fateful night when an angry mob, constituted largely of his neighbours in Bishahra dragged his family out of their house, broken his skull and lynched his father Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi over suspicions that they slaughtered a cow and ate beef.

The FIR registered last week against them for alleged cow slaughter, said Mr. Saifi, was a “part of concerted campaign to brand them as culprit and strategically sideline the actual case of lynching and murder of Akhlaq.”

Mr. Saifi who stays along with rest of Akhlaq's family in a two-bedroom house in Delhi's Subroto Park said that the media discourse in the aftermath of the FIR for the “baseless case of cow slaughter” verged to the extent of “baying for their blood by mob justice.”

“It is a tragic reality which is no less than a farce. Me and my family who survived the bloody attack and lost our guardian, have been branded the culprit. While the crime of those who killed an innocent on the falsehood of an emotive issue, has suddenly been forgotten, we are being asked to prove our innocence, yet again by the same mob and their collective conscience which had very long delivered its verdict,” said Mr. Saifi.

Acting on the order of the Gautam Buddh Nagar court, the Uttar Pradesh police last week booked six persons — Akhlaq’s wife Ikraman, his mother Asghari, daughter Shaishta, son Danish, brother Jaan Mohammad and his wife — under several sections of the U.P. Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, and the Animal Cruelty Act.

All of them except Jan Mohammad and his wife, witnessed Akhlaq's lynching which provoked outrage against “increasing intolerance” in the country.

“I have complete faith in judiciary and we have nothing to hide. From the very first day we are saying that there was no beef, let alone cow slaughter which we strongly believe has been raised yet again to neutralise the charges of murder against those 18 accused who killed my father,” said the 22-year-old graduate of Osmania University.

“Watching TV these days is extremely disturbing. People want us arrested and charged for cow slaughter. But will that satisfy their conscience? Do they believe in the idea of justice which does not confirm to their will and mob justice,” he asked.

Asked if he would ever want to go back to the village, Mr. Saifi, who still undergoing treatment at the army's R&R Hospital in Delhi, pointed towards his broken skull and said, “This is the only scar of my life which is there on my forehead but which ripped my heart. I may not be able to go in the near future”.

Akhlaq's wife Ms. Ikraman expressed fear that the case might be “exploited by political parties which would only worsen the situation.”

“Gradually a lynch mob is being strategically raised, yet again as the State Assembly polls are nearing. We might see another panchayat demanding our arrest. That lynch mob wants the judiciary to deliver justice but it has already branded us as killers and killed my husband holding him guilty of something he never did,” she said.

“The meat which was declared beef was recovered by the police from the street where the mob had gathered to attack us. All we want is fair investigation without any political interference,” she added.

After speaking at length, Mr. Saifi suddenly stopped. Ms. Ikraman, at this point intervened and said that the effects of the head injury were still there. “He forgets. And he can not talk at this pace for long. He still needs one more major surgery to completely recover. But in a true sense we, probably, won't ever be able to recover from the deep wounds etched in our heart,” she concluded.


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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 7:27:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Victims-are-being-branded-culprits-says-Akhlaq%E2%80%99s-son/article14501115.ece

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