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A tale of two murders


Two brutal murders have taken place in India. Neither of them will stay in the news for very long.

It’s 15 December 2017 as I write this blog, and 16 December will make it five years since the infamous Delhi rape went viral, globally.

On 9 December 2017, a 6-year-old dalit girl was kidnapped as she lay sleeping next to her mother and two siblings. The father, a rag-picker, was away in Delhi. They lived in a makeshift tent on the roadside in Haryana state, near Delhi. No door. No security. Completely vulnerable to rapists or murderers.

After the mother reported her missing, police found the child in the morning, lying in a pool of blood with a stick in her vagina. She had been raped, before the sociopath killed her. Her family and locals protested at the way the child’s body was returned by authorities – to the mother, in a filthy blood stained cloth after the autopsy.

But that’s normal treatment for the poor and marginalized in India.

The rich and powerful criminals and politicians get VIP treatment in Indian jails. Will anyone follow up on this case? It’s doubtful. Justice is a long and tortuous process, even for the rich. For the poor its mostly elusive. An illusion.

No one really cares: the family must be at the absolute bottom of the Indian economic pyramid if the father is a rag picker, and they lived on the road side in a makeshift, probably tarpaulin tent.

On 6 December 2017, in Rajasthan, 48-year-old Mohammad Afrazul, a Muslim migrant worker from faraway West Bengal was also brutally murdered. The alleged murderer, Shambhulal Regar, hacked him to pieces while a 14-year-old nephew calmly recorded the gruesome chopping up of the hapless victim.

Afrazul’s mutilated body was then burnt – another significant and deliberate action as it is important for Muslims to bury their dead.

Shambhulal Regar was proud of his murder. He believed Afrazul was in a relationship with a Hindu woman, and he considered it a patriotic, nationalistic duty to save Hinduism from Muslims. ‘This is what will happen to you if you do “love jihad” in our country,’ he warned Indian Muslims at large. The video was posted online. Shambhulal said he will continue to kill Muslim men who court Hindu women. ‘If I have to die, I will kill some and die,’ he proudly announced to TV channels. Weirdly, It’s the kind of thing an Islamist jihadist might well say.

A senior police officer said, ‘It is a merciless killing. A normal person wouldn’t do this.’

The problem is, killing Muslims with impunity has become the new normal in Rajasthan. Afrazul is the fourth Muslim to be murdered this year. Pehlu Khan died after being mercilessly beaten to death in April this year by cow vigilantes though he had official permits to transport cattle. A few months later, Zafar Hussein was attacked because he objected to officials photographing women using open fields as they had no toilets. In November, Umer Mohammed with a group of workers was assaulted by cow vigilantes again. He too, succumbed to the injuries inflicted. In September, the Rajasthan police allowed the six murderers Pehlu Khan named with his last breath to walk free.

It’s a bad time to be a Muslim, a dalit or a minority of any sort in India. The political climate protects perpetrators of hate crimes. Men who film their crimes and post the videos publicly are treated as heroes, patriots, and defenders of the faith. There’s a culture of impunity which sends out a message that it’s fine to attack minorities. Gandhi and the women and men who fought for our freedom seem to belong to another planet.

Will the tide turn? It can. But only if the people who believe in a secular, free India stop doing nothing.

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