India’s Muslims live ‘in constant fear’ as vigilante murders increase

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 31 July 2017| 07 Zhul Qadha 1438

In early July, local engineer Nazmal Hassan was caught wearing a burqa by police at Aligarh railway station in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

He wanted to hide his identity due to fear of being targeted on the train.

His cover was blown when he was getting off the train and his bag accidentally hit a co-passenger, who fell over.

Mr Hassan said that the person accused him of intentionally hitting him, before launching an outburst of verbal abuse — attacking his religion — in public.

“Incidents of killings on the issue of us being beef eaters have scared me to death,” Mr Hassan told the ABC.

“I have started believing that such things can happen to me also and I could also end up being a victim of this violence.”

Mr Hassan’s memory returned to the horrific murder of Junaid Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim boy, who was stabbed to death on a train while he was returning home from Delhi in early June.

Khan was allegedly killed because of his Muslim identity.

The teenager, wearing a skullcap, was thrown off a train after being stabbed by an unruly mob.

Vigilante campaigns target beef eaters
The assault was yet another against Muslims, who make up about 14 per cent of India’s 1.3 billion people population.
According to international NGO Human Rights Watch, vigilante campaigns against those who consume beef have led to the killing of at least 15 Muslims — including a 12-year-old boy — since May 2015.

Scores more have been injured in seven separate incidents of mob violence.

India is experiencing a spate of vigilante murders targeting mainly Muslims accused of eating cows, which Hindus consider to be holy.

The violence is causing growing unease among the country’s Muslim minority, prompting calls from activists for the Government to act.

Khan’s was one of the many lynchings and atrocities against Muslims in recent months.

Lynching is an old crime in India, often committed against those of so-called lower castes and marginalised tribes in order to reinforce brutal social hierarchies.

Many observers believe that the extremists were boosted by the election of Indian nationalist Narendra Modi in 2014.

India’s Prime Minister has been sending mixed messages on the issue: slamming cow-protecting vigilantes but also appointing a right-wing Hindu priest to lead the country’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

The fear runs high even in pockets of the country’s rural hinterland.

Some feel it is an undeclared emotional war.

Malika Begum, a domestic helper from the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, said the members of her family — she has four daughters and a son — have gone back into their shells.

“We live in constant fear and we have to watch our backs all the time,” Ms Begum told the ABC.

“It is their reign. We are not respected. And it is not getting better at all especially in this current climate.

Source – ABC News