September 18, 2009
Azamgarh prays for daughters now
By Piyush Srivastava in Azamgarh
WHEN Shagufta had a baby during Ramzan last year, she thanked God for blessing her with a girl and not a boy.
She is not a feminist – just an Azamgarh mother who does not want her child to be shot dead in the name of fighting terror.
“Thank God I have a daughter. Maybe the police won’t kill her,” she is said to have exclaimed after delivering at Sanjarpur village.
That was soon after September 19, when Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajid, two youth from the village, had been killed by the Delhi Police in the Batla House ‘encounter’. They were blamed for carrying out the deadly Delhi serial blasts a week earlier and a number of other terrorist attacks.
Mohammad Saif, another youth from Sanjarpur living with Atif and Sajid, was arrested. And five days later, Shagufta’s brother Arif Nasim Ahmed, who was preparing for medical entrance examinations, was held in Lucknow for his alleged links with “ the terrorists”. Despite that, Shagufta’s father didn’t like her reaction and thought
she had gone crazy.
“But since then, 18 youth from Sanjarpur and neighbouring villages have been arrested on the false charge of having links with terrorists. Another 11 have fled to avoid arrest,” Saif ’s father Shadab Ahmad says.
“We have since realised why Shagufta felt the way she did. Now we are also praying to God to bless us with more girls, so we can live in peace, away from the terror of the police.” Among those absconding is Azamgarh prays for daughters now Shadab’s eldest son Shahnawaz, 28. “ The police say he is a Pakistan- trained terrorist and was involved with Saif in the Greater Kailash- I blast of September 13, 2008. Their evidence: Saif used to talk to Shahnawaz on a mobile phone owned by Atif,” Shadab adds.
“It obviously means Muslim friends shouldn’t share phones and perhaps shouldn’t even talk to their brothers. We are devastated by the way the police have waged a war against our innocent children. But we are not giving up. We will fight for justice unto the last.” Atif’s father Mohammad Ameen Ahmad can also see the wisdom in Shagufta’s prayers.
He is filled with bitterness. “Sooner or later, the killers must be punished. Sooner or later, the government must set up a judicial probe headed by a sitting high court judge. Sooner or later, the Congress has to answer us and prove that our children were terrorists,” he says.
Zahid, the elder brother of Sajid, gradually lost his mental balance, unable to accept his brother’s brutal murder. Now try to talk him about Sajid and he numbly asks, “ Who?” But he also remembers to add: “ Kill those terrorists in khaki ( the police). They destroyed the peace of Sanjarpur.” Shagufta’s aunt Farzana has just returned after meeting her son Arif Nasim at Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Central Jail. She too has no qualms about calling the police the real terrorists.
“My son has been in jail for year: he continues to be tortured.
A stone pelted on a train carrying Rahul Gandhi galvanises the entire security apparatus of the country. But the bones of my son’s body have been broken by the police in jail in the name of fighting terror, and nobody cares. I have told him never to bow down before the terrorists in the guise of the police,” she says.
Steadfastness, perhaps, is the last refuge of the hopeless.