Issues

No sanctity for life

Yasir Altaf Zargar

Delhi, Haryana, Mumbai, Punjab, Shimla and now Jammu and Kashmir---places change but the dead remain the same---the dead who belong to the minority community of a country where the cow is more precious than a human. It may sound strange but is true. It happened in India at several places. For alleged cow slaughter more than three had been attacked over rumours. Earlier, it was Mohammad Akhlaque of Dadri, U.P., who was beaten to death by a mob, allegedly over rumours that he had eaten beef, then Noman was beaten in Himachal Pradesh over rumours that he had been carrying a cow from one place to another. Lastly it ended with Zahid of Kashmir, who was attacked by goons with a petrol bomb. It was not just a Hindu mob attacking Muslims, but an anti-national mob attacking India’s plurality, diversity and inclusiveness. By killing Zahid, a 23-year old guy who left home to see India’s plurality, once again it proved Mr. Jinnah correct about the Partition.

On one side the democratic nation grants a person right to follow any religion and makes laws taking away a person’s right to practise religion. Meanwhile, all persons have the right to practise their faith as they choose, or no faith at all, without fear or discrimination as declared by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Fundamental Rights give a person right to freedom to eat what he likes but some organisations do not agree with the Constitution and they pass their own laws making the cow more important than a human. That India is a diverse nation with religious pluralism, but these people overlook this fact and try their best to divide the nation on the basis of caste and creed.

The Prime Minister is busy campaigning about Digital India, which is meant for connecting each person belonging to any religion to Internet. Thus everyone in the country will remain in contact with each other, but on the other side, racism continues. The whole nation is divided and the cow has become its main reason.

A few days before Zahid Rasool of class X along with his brother Mohammad Ashraf Bhat, a truck conductor and Rameez Ahmad, a truck driver, had some work in Delhi. Zahid had insisted on going to Delhi. His brother agreed and took Zahid to Delhi. There was a rumour at Udhampur that a cow had been slaughtered by Muslims which made some extremist Hindus angry over it. On their way back Zahid and his brother were stopped at Udhampur by RSS goons who hurled petrol bombs at them. The only crime they had done was that they were from Kashmir where beef is consumed every day. The RSS goons shouted “ye ugarwadi hain” ( these are terrorists), “ye log desh drohi hain” (these people are traitors), “ye log Pakistani hain” (these are Pakistanis), (“humay inko marna chaheya”) (we should kill them).

The mob followed the instructions, hurled petrol bombs on them in which two people were injured. Zahid succumbed to his injuries at Safdar hospital after a few days. Zahid was the first member of his family, including his father, mother, three brothers and three sisters, to go to high school. Trips such as these when school was open were rare.

Zahid didn’t return on his own, but was carried back in a box carried by several people. Wails and cries greeted him when his coffin reached home. Hundreds joined his funeral. Amid tears and cries, everyone in the funeral prayers of Zahid was numb with grief and sorrow. Local youth clashed with police and CRPF men. During the clashes, police used pepper grenades to quell the protests and one of the grenades landed in the courtyard of Zahid’s house. As smoke of the grenade made everybody momentarily blind and writhe in pain, the mourners ran to fetch water to ease the effect. “They don’t even let us mourn in peace, may they rot in hell,” the women cried out in unison.

For the past week, Botengo had been tense but calm, thanks to the father of Zahid. When the youth came out on streets following the October 9 attack that left Zahid Ahmad struggling for life, the 70-year-old farmer, father of Zahid, Ghulam Rasool, had gone to the local mosque and made an announcement urging for peace. “We should not harm anyone,” he said. “My son needs your prayers.”

That restraint was shattered on Sunday as news came that Zahid had succumbed to his injuries. “I have lost everything,” cried Ghulam Rasool, waiting for Zahid’s body to reach from Delhi. “I have lost the light of my eyes.”

Outside his home, protesters, now refusing to be held back, were clashing with the police since news came of Zahid’s death. The main highway became a battle ground for protesters. “It is enough now,” said a masked protester. “This government has a Hindutva agenda and we will not take it silently.”

Reportedly, Zahid’s father twice rejected the compensation offered by the state government. He did so even afer the amount was doubled. “The fact is that the DC sahib called me to his office. He put something in my hand. When I checked, it was Rs 10,000 and two air tickets,” he says. “Next day, I was told Mufti Sahib was coming for some inauguration. I blocked his car and handed him an envelope. It had Rs 20,000 and a cheque for another Rs 20,000. He took it, didn’t say anything and left.

The family is demanding justice. People in Kashmir have no faith in the justice of the government. They only believe the courts as well as government favour killers.

Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairman Yasin Malik called for a valley-wide shutdown to protest against the killing of Zahid by RSS goons.

People on social media blamed RSS as well as BJP for it. Some people on their facebook posts said that these were so-called “achhe din” in Kashmir. A hash tag was made to show their support for Zahid “#BetiChusZahid”.

Yasir Altaf Zargar is a web security analyst from Srinagar.
He may be contacted at zargaryasir@gmail.com 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2015 on page no. 2

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