Other States

Afrajul Khan was no love jihadi, say co-workers, friends

Human rights activists walk during a protest against the killing of a Muslim labourer in Rajasthan, in Kolkata on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AP

Afrajul Khan, the 50 year old migrant worker from Bengal, killed in Rajasthan, was not involved in any movement to convert Hindu women to Islam and neither “engaged” in any “love jihad”, his friends and co-workers told The Hindu. They said that Khan used to live with his two brothers-in-law in a small house in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan where he was killed. A nephew used to stay with him as well, said Md. Jiaul, a construction worker of Rajsamand district, who used to know Mr. Khan.

“It is impossible for a poor Muslim man to hide an affair with a Hindu woman in such a locality, which is predominantly a Muslim neighbourhood,” said Md. Jiaul said on phone.

“We [migrant Muslim workers] are extremely alert about our actions. We will be the first to inform a man’s family and throw him out of the community if he runs a secret affair and that too with a Hindu woman, jeopardising security of hundreds,” Mr. Jiaul added.

A bunkum

A video surfaced on Thursday where Mr. Khan was seen lying on ground and pleading to a man in red t-shirt to let him go. The man in red t-shirt, identified as Shambhulal Regar, was seen with an axe. He hacked Khan and then set him on fire. He purportedly claimed in another video that he will punish all those engaged in “love jihad”— a term made popular by Hindu right wing groups. Regar was arrested later. Mr. Khan’s friends in Malda, who have known him for decades, also called the “love jihad theory…a bunkum.”

“A murderer said that Afrajul was engaged in love jihad and media repeated it. The man was visiting his family in every two or three months and sending money on a daily basis and he was having an affair with a Hindu woman in Rajasthan…is that believable?” asks Jiaur Rehman, a school teacher. Mr. Rehman teaches in a local school and a neighbour of Khan.

“Many used to know him in both Malda and Rajsamand as he used to employ Malda boys in construction sites in Rajsamand. They would have surely known if he had an affair and informed his family,” said Mr. Rehman. Mr. Khan’s body reached his village Syedpur on Friday evening and was received by thousands, including prominent politicians of Trnamool Congress (TMC) and Communist Party of India-Marxist [CPI-M]

Protests in Kolkata

In Kolkata, a candlelight protest march was led by Abhishek Banerjee, President of the TMC Youth Wing and the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Besides TMC, about half a dozen rights organisation and political parties hosted several rallies in Kolkata.

Over 100 people gathered in central Kolkata to hold a protest march till Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] headquarters, also in central Kolkata. Prasenjit Bose, a former CPI-M member, was one of the leading faces of the rally, which was stopped before it could reach the RSS headquarters. CPI(M) and Association for Protection of Democratic Rights too held separate rallies. Samirul Islam, president of Bangiya Sanskriti Mancha, said they would organise a peace rally on Saturday in both Kolkata and Malda.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a compensation of ₹3 lakh and a job to one of Afrajul’s family members.

“Afrajul Khan of Malda of our state was brutally killed. His family is totally helpless. As a small help to the bereaved family, our government has decided to provide Rs 3 lakh to the family and also one job to the eligible person of the victim’s family,” Ms. Banerjee said a tweet.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 5:16:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/afrajul-khan-was-no-love-jehadi-say-co-workers-friends/article21325833.ece

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