It was a sombre Eid at Khandawali. Villagers turned up for prayers wearing black bands to protest the lynching of a Muslim youth on board a Mathura-bound train last week. After the special morning prayer, many talked about earlier incidents of lynching in Dadri and Alwar, and asked when would such targeted attacks on Muslims stop? “Junaid’s killing is not just a murder. In Dadri, it was Mohammed Akhlaq. In Alwar, it was Pehlu Khan and now, an innocent teenager from Ballabgarh. It is hatred which is being bred in society,” said Zubair, a youth from Khandawali village. Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, was killed by cow vigilantes in Alwar in Rajasthan in April this year, while Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015 on suspicion that his family had stored and consumed beef at their house.
“We feel vulnerable. Is there anything wrong in wearing articles of your faith such as a skull cap and growing beard. Should we be targeted just for this,” Zubair asked. Non-Muslims from some social organisations were also seen in the village. They condemned the horrific incident and expressed their support for the family in the hour of grief. Gayasuddin, another villager, who struggled to hold back his tears, asked, “How will we celebrate Eid, we are in mourning today.”
“Our demand is that such incidents should stop. We demand that all the culprits should be arrested,” he said.
A sense of despair hung in the air in Khandawali village, lying over an hour’s drive from Delhi. Festivities were missing and there was no biryani being cooked in households, which is the tradition on Eid, or children being seen playing carefree on streets. “This place used to bustle on Eid. Today, even those who turned up for prayers, wore a gloomy face,” said Mohd Ashraf, another villager.
Junaid’s mother Saira is in a state of shock ever since the news of her son’s killing reached her. Another villager said that Junaid had once told her mother that he wanted to become Imam of Jama Masjid. Junaid was stabbed to death while his brothers, Hashim and Sakir, were injured by a mob which also allegedly hurled slurs against them on board the Delhi-Mathura passenger train between Ballabgarh and Mathura stations on Thursday night.
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Police had yesterday announced a reward of Rs one lakh to anyone providing credible information leading to arrest of other accused in the case. “So far, only one person has been arrested and further investigations were under progress,” Kamaldeep Goel, the Superintendent of Police, Government Railway Police (GRP), Faridabad, said today.
He also said six EMU trains running on the route (Delhi- Palwal-Mathura) had been identified which could be vulnerable and accordingly vigil and security had been stepped up.