The lives of Mohammad Sajid and his family, residents of Bhoop Singh Colony, village Bhondsi, rural Guragaon, took an unexpected turn on the evening of 21st March. It was an otherwise lazy afternoon of Holi which was melting into evening, when Sajid, his sons and some of his relatives who were visitng them on the day, were playing cricket in an abandoned field right in front of his house. Two young boys, both residents of Naya Gaon, a village nearby, came on a bike and demanded to play with them. The friendly match was in the middle already and people playing it did not want to break it. So they refused them. An altercation followed. As per Sajid communal slurs were hurled at them right away. “Tuhm Mulle log Pakistan jaake cricket kyu nahi khelte”. The two boys from Naya Gaon eventually left. Only to come back with two bikes, and six people each carrying sticks, iron rods and even spears. They were shortly followed by another mob of people who came by foot and were also armed with rods and spears.
The mob barged into their house and with extreme aggression started beating up each and every one inside. A short glimpse of the attack was captured on camera by few of the family members, mostly women who were stranded on the terrace. It is the same video of the incident that later went viral on social media. Some of the attackers realized that they were being video graphed and first tried to break down the terrace door with spears and rods. They were unable to break it down. Sensing trouble as their deeds were being recorded on video, they eventually left. But the attack was much more serious than what that video was able to capture.
The mob surrounded the whole house and continuously threw rocks and stones to break the glass panes. They kept hurling communal abuses. They had beaten up all the members of the family who were downstairs and first floor, including children. They dragged the terrified children out of cupboards and from below the beds where they were hiding and beat them to pulp. As they opened the cupboards, the goons also stole jewellery and cash that they found. Mohd Sajid, Mohd Irshad, Mohd Shadab, Mrs Shakreen, Abid, Shahrukh, Sameena, Dilshad, Nargis, Afifa and Aamir were most badly beaten. In fact the attackers thought they were dead.
The terrified family of Md. Sajid tried to call the police by dialing 100. But they could not get through. Finally, they took the injured people to AIIMS in a private car, while one person left for the police station to call the police.
A team of United Against Hate (UAH) first visited the injured people admitted in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital on the 25th March 2019. A couple of days later, when they had been, we went to meet them in their house. The house looked like a hospital in a war zone. There were broken glass panes shattered everywhere and there were also marks of rods and spears on the walls. Windows and doors were broken through which the goons forced their entry. There was an injured person or two in each and every room, in each and every bed of the house. The ones walking around seemed to be in immense trauma and stress. The fear was palpable on each and every family members house. “The kids cry every day since then. ‘Woh rangwale log phirse aa jayenge abbu. Bhaag chalte hai yaha se”. The attackers who had played holi in the morning and came with sticks and spears in the evening to kill them all, are perpetually etched in the minds of the children. They had broken down every door, except one. They could not break the terrace door, which few women and girls and a young boy held from within, while Danista, another young girl took the video. The marks of forced entry, dent by spears on the terrace door were clear. Still, the goons could not break it. “Allah, stood with us, holding the door. Otherwise it was just few girls on one side and armed goons on a rampage on the other”, Nargis, the young daughter-in-law of Sajid proclaimed.
The local neighbors did not come up to rescue the family, said Sajid. Most of them were not here because it was Holi, the rest saw us being attacked and beaten up from a distance. They were terrified too probably, he infers. In fact Bhoop Singh Colony is not an old neighborhood. It is a sparsely populated newly developed colony, where mostly migrant workers who work in the sprawling industrial belt of Gurgaon, stay on rent. They are therefore mostly outsiders and fleeting population, where people remain unattached from each other. There is no neighborly feeling or bonding. The attackers on the other hand, came from Naya Gaon, which is a relatively older settlement and is dominated by the Gujjar community. They are local dominant caste, and incidents of violence by them are common. The neighbours, whoever were there on that fateful day, therefore identified them as the local dominant hooligans and therefore refrained from interfering.
The role of the police:
The police has NOT included in the FIR name of the people who were part of the mob that beat up Sajid and his family, though they can be very easily identified from the video that is available on the internet.Ø
Few people were taken into custody as per claims of the police, but even after so many days, no identification parade of the accused has taken place.
Everyone in the police station was very tight lipped and were not willing to talk anything about the case. They said that the commissioner Mr Akeel has given directions that only the police PRO Mr Boken should talk to anybody from outside the department.
A counter case and refusal to give FIR:
A counter case has been filed on the family. After seven days, the accused showcased a boy who according to them was hit on the head by the victim family and got several stiches. Curiously this boy was not mentioned by the accused when media widely covered the attack. The counter FIR is clearly an attempt to balance and intimidate the victims to not pursue the matter legally and settle the case. The copy of this counter FIR has not been provided to the family, despite their demands and also the fact that it is their right. Members of UAH tried to get a copy with the help of some media persons, but even the journalists were NOT able to get a copy of that FIR.
The family held a press conference on the 1st April and talked about intimidation that they were facing and even talked about committing mass suicide.
Gujjar Panchayats have been held in the mean time where strategies to intimidate the family to settle the matter and not pursue it legally.
On our second visit we saw Local MLA, Tejpal Tawar also happened to visit the family.
Mr Tawar said: “dono logon ko sath baitha kar milwa denge”. The tone of people who accompanied him was more of striking a compromise rather than talking about getting the culprits punished. This incident in Gurugram in short reveals once again the manner in which hate and bigotry against muslims is inciting such incidents of horrifying violence; it also shows the absolute impunity that these communal goons enjoy and the abject surrender of law enforcing agencies in front of such dominant hooligans. If Mohammad Sajid’s family is intimidated into silence or is forced to leave their house, if these goons are not punished despite glaring evidences against them then our democracy and Constitution will register yet another massive jolt to its claimed democratic and secular character.
Fact Finding Team Members:
This Report is by the team members of United Against Hate Comprising Saurabh Misra , Banojyotsna Lahiri, Farrah Shakeb ,Syed Farman Ahmed, Nikita Chaturvedi, Tamanna Pankaj and शाहिद चौधरी who visited the family on 27th March 2019.