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Carnage in Sirswan God - who dunnit?...

‘Not a single penny, no jewelry or any other valuable item was stolen from any of the four Muslims families assaulted, kicked, killed and raped with unprecedented cruelty and barbarism’ is what our correspondent, S Ubaidur Rahman, discovered in Sirswan God. Refusal of two government hospitals to admit the critically injured points to the usual hands which are trying these days to polarize the voters on many caste and religious lines. Locals claim that it was a revenge for the Doda massacre... Yet our hon’ble home minister claims that it was an act of criminals.Memory fails to discover a similar failed and blind home minister who is desperately trying to step into his boss’s shoes...

Top: Two houses off the highway, where both families lost four members;
below from left: young victim Shabana, Lateefan, Bhure and Nabi Bakhsh father of Shabana and Raees who was killed.

We have heard stories of human barbarism in different places, seen massacres ourselves, but what took place here in Sirsawan God, a sleepy village on the Ram Nagar-Kashipur highway off Rampur-Moradabad Road on 23 July outdoes every other recent incident in cruelty. Not only seven people belonging to four Muslim families were killed in cold blood but thirteen others were also left in a critical condition and it is believed that they were taken as dead by the assailants. All people either injured or killed were found stark naked when people reached when the news spread in the area. Women were raped and killed. Even a two-year-old girl was not spared. She was tossed in the air and when people reached she was barely breathing.

The most tragic incident is that of Shabana. Just twelve-year-old this innocent girl was carried two hundred meters away from her house that lies just off the main highway barely 15 kilometers away from Moradabad and raped repeatedly by people whose number she fails to count. If that was not enough she was also injured brutally by those who outraged her modesty. Another woman, Sagheeran, wife of Hanif, who was five months pregnant was also repeatedly raped and critically injured.

From two-years-old to 80 years-old, they did not spare anyone. Rubeena, only two-years old, was killed. Tarannum, just five-years-old, was murdered. Zareef, her twelve-year-old brother, was also not spared. He too was killed on the spot. Latifan, in her late eighties, was critically injured. A mentally-retarded septuagenarian lady was also assaulted brutally by those devils who attacked four families simultaneously. Strangely, not a single penny, no jewelry or any other valuable item was stolen from any of the four Muslims families assaulted, kicked, killed and raped with unprecedented cruelty and barbarism.

The drama did not end with the death of so many people and deadliest of injuries to a number of others. It stretched longer. If villagers and relatives of the deceased and injured are to be believed, police and administration did everything to prevent move than a dozen injured people from getting timely medical assistance. It sound unbelievable that all the thirteen injured people were denied admission in the Moradabad Civil Hospital, which has all the necessary facilities for such emergencies. Relatives who took the seriously injured people to this hospital say that they were told by the administration to take the patients to Meerut.

It takes four good hours to reach Meerut from Moradabad using broken roads. But even reaching Meerut did not solve their problem. Shakeel, who lost four members of his family, told MG that ‘they were told that the Meerut Civil Hospital was on strike. Shakeel claims that there were no signs of a strike as other patients were being taken care of and even being provided with admission and OPD facilities. We were told to take the people who were barely breathing to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, another three hours journey from Meerut. When we asked them to give us in writing that there was a strike and refusal to treat the patients, the hospital officials did not budge.’ Shakeel adds that when we said that we don’t know the route to Delhi the officials promptly agreed to guide us towards the main road leading to Delhi. But they refused to admit our patients. Later the patients, who were battling for their lives, were brought back to Moradabad and were taken care by a local physician, Dr TH Mehdi Hasan, who said that he will treat the patients as best as he can. He has treated all the patients in his clinic and has charged nothing. Others who were more critically injured were admitted in the private Sai Hospital.

The ghastly drama was enacted with meticulous planning. It is believed that all the members of the four families were intoxicated with something resembling chloroform. So no one has any idea as to what happened later. They all were asleep when this incident took place. Even the people who received deadliest injuries have no idea of what happened with them. Bhura, around twenty-years-old, who received cuts in his neck, head and face and has not recovered fully even now fails to come up with any idea as to what happened on that night.

Villagers see political motive behind the killing. Nabi Bukhsh who lost his son Rais, a village wrestler, says that he is unable to think of anyone who could kill his son and rape his innocent daughter, Shabana. Shakeel who was out on that fateful night, says that, ‘these killings were political. We had no quarrel with anyone. We are simple labourers and petty farmers. We have no money. And whatever we had was not even touched by those devil forces who attacked our families. There must be some political motive behind this whole drama,’ he says with tears rolling down his eyes.

Another villager, Asrar, insists that it was just political motive that was involved in the whole carnage. Asrar who helped carry the injured to the hospitals to Moradabad and Meerut says that there were some concrete indication to their suspicions.

Villagers point out that either the police was directly involved in the whole drama or it was at least aware of what was happening in Sirswan God. The site where Shabana was repeatedly raped by several people gave enough indications towards it. A police cap and UP police belt was found near the bush where the small girl was meted with a heinous crime. Zahid, another villager, who came to the house after hearing the screams says that he saw a police van stationed nearby. Even young Shabana claims to have seen the police van. According to the villagers, Nepal Singh, a sub-inspector in the nearby Bhojpur police station, claims to have heard the screams but says that he thought it was a family quarrel. This correspondent tried to contact Nepal Singh in Bhojpur Police Station but he was not available.

There are other elements that make things complicated. Asrar Ahmad claims that when he came to the spot the police was loading all the dead and injured people on a van. When he told them that there are some people still breathing, they tried to ignore him. ‘They would have carried the injured people also to the morgue if some other people had not joined me in objecting to such callous move’ says Asrar.

People in Moradabad also see political motive in the incident. Mohammad Ameen, a local BSP leader, says that the Saffron parties are trying to communally vitiate the environment before the forthcoming assembly elections in the state. He adds that the prospects of the BJP have touched such a nadir that in desperation it can resort to anything in order to win the forthcoming elections. He says that saffron parties are now resorting to arousing communal frenzy for their short term gains. He says that repeated incidents of the same kind amply reflect this.

Moradabad has seen two total bandhs since the incident. People are feeling outraged over the incident and more so over the inaction of the administration in response to such a tragic incident. Salim Ahmad, a Muslim leader of the area, told MG that the whole incident smells of some plan behind it.

Anger and disenchantment against the administration are brewing among the people in Moradabad. Maulana Sharif Ahmad, Sajjada Nashin of Dargah Hazrat Khwaja Abdur Rahim Shah, says, ‘had such an incident happened with a Hindu family the whole village would have been set on fire.’ He says that when two Hindus were killed some two years ago in a nearby village, the police cordoned off the whole area and interrogated each and every person even in the nearby villagers.

People here laugh at the theory being put forward by the home minister that it was the handiwork of criminal tribals. Hanif, who lost his wife, twelve-year-old son and a five-years-old daughter, says that it is just a gimmick to save the culprits. Shakeel, his nephew, says that no tribal can be so cruel. He says that it was done by some very beastly people whose hearts had been taken out from their bodies.

Shakil alleges that the administration is involved in this incident some way or the other. He says that though a number of political and social leaders have visited his family and other survivors but not a single BJP minister in UP has visited the area so far. He adds that not a single word has been heard from UP Chief Minister Raj Nath Singh condemning the incident. He asked this correspondent as to whether any word sympathizing with the survivors or the relatives of the killed has been spoken by Advani, Vajpayee or some other BJP leaders. Others too repeated this question.

There is another story going round in the area. There are people who claim that the killing were a revenge for the recent massacre of some Hindus in Doda district in Jammu & Kashmir. This theory is fast gaining hold in the area. Administration’s lax attitude in this whole drama is giving more credence to such rumours.

Villagers are still aghast. When this correspondent visited the area it was more than a week after the ghastly incident, but the incident was quite alive in the air.

Whole families have been destroyed. Surviving relatives are unable to forget those who were killed and the way they were killed. They pray for the deceased, pray for the people who are battling for their lives and curse those who did this to them. The only solace for them is that all the villagers, people in surrounding villages, Moradabad city and all other areas and even people from far-off places are sympathizing with them and coming forward to offer them financial, social and emotional help. A number of political, social and religious leaders have also visited the village to offer their sympathies.

Shabana gazes in the air. Hanif recalls his lovely daughter, Tarannum, and ever-laughing son, Zareef. Nabi Bakhsh lives with the memories of his beloved son Raees. Anwar cries inconsolably remembering his wife, Shahjahan, who was raped and killed and his two-year-old daughter Rubina. All of themdemand one thing in unison: justice and justice alone.

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