Haryana Violence: Cleric Saad was to Board Train for Home Hours After he was Killed
Police personnel outside Anjuman Mosque which was set ablaze in the Sector 57 area, in Gurugram district, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI
Gurugram (Haryana)/New Delhi: Had Mohammad Saad, the naib imam (deputy prayer leader) of Anjuman Masjid at Sector 57 in Haryana’s Gurugram, been alive today, he would have been at home in Bihar. He had a confirmed boarding ticket of Anand Vihar-Muzaffarpur Sapt Kranti Express and was scheduled to catch the train at 2:50 p.m on August 1.
When communal violence broke out at Mewat’s Nuh district on July 31 afternoon following clashes during Braj-Mandal Yatra, Saad’s cell phone was flooded with calls from his elder brother and sister, who were anticipating a possible fallout of the Nuh incident in Gurugram as well.
A resident of Maniyadih, a village in north Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, the cleric in his early 20s, convinced them not to overthink and worry.
“We are safe, there is no problem here at all. There is a power outage, but the police have been deployed outside the mosque. There are private guards as well to secure the mosque. So, don’t worry and sleep. I am also going to bed. I will come tomorrow morning.”
As narrated by his brother-in-law (sister’s husband), Ghulam Rasool, these were his last words at around 11:30 p.m on July 31 to his brother Shadab Anwar, who also stays elsewhere in Gurugram and serves as a prayer leader and gives tuitions for a living.
Saad felt duty-bound not to leave the premises until the return of chief imam, who was out of city and scheduled to come back on July 3, his brother said.
But little did he know that his body would be travelling to its final destination in an ambulance to never return again. A mob of about 60 people attacked the Gurugram mosque in the early hours of August 1, fired several shots that hit his chest and temple, brutalised him with sharp weapons, injured three others and set the mosque on fire, his relatives told NewsClick.
Saad was declared dead by the hospital, where he along with other injured, was rushed for treatment.
“Shadab bhai’s cell phone rang at around 1:30 a.m. The call was made from Saad’s number. The caller informed him about the incident and asked him to reach the mosque. Considering it a prank or some sort of trap to harm us as well, we decided to confirm the information first before stepping out,” Rasool told NewsClick over phone from Maniyadih on July 2 afternoon.
He had just returned from the burial of the deceased.
When they were busy calling people from the mosque management and local acquaintances, another phone call at around 2:30 a.m shook them to the core. This time, it was from a hospital.
“We were first asked to describe Saad’s physique and then informed that he was no more,” he recalled, his voice choking.
“We were genuinely not expecting this. It was difficult to process the information. For some time, Shadab bhai and I went into complete silence, battling to control tears,” he said.
The toughest job at hand was to break the information to his parents and sister.
“How could I dare to go to my wife to tell her that her youngest brother, who for her was like a son, was dead. She had not slept throughout the night and was praying for his safety. She had offered additional prayers as well. But I had to do it. Finally, I told her at around 7:30 a.m that Saad had been killed. I was frozen, I had no words to console her,” he said.
After hearing the news, she kept falling unconscious again and again, he added.
Rasool’s trauma did not end there. He now had to inform Saad’s parents.
“I dialled my father-in-law, but he along with my mother-in-law was away from home for medical treatment. I then called up a relative at whose house they were staying and told him about the same. The elderly parents are still unable to come to terms that Saad is no more,” he said.
The deceased youth hailed from a humble background and was the sole bread winner of the family of five (three unmarried sisters and their parents). Because of financial constraints, he had to discontinue the aalimiyat course (equivalent to graduation) — which he was pursuing after completing Hifz-e-Quran (memorisation of the Holy Quran) from a local madrasa.
“He had joined the Anjuman mosque just six months back to support his family expense,” said Rasool, explaining that the elder brother (Shadab) is married and has children with whom he lives in Gurugram.
“He does not earn enough to financially look after two families,” he added.
‘NOT ONE, BUT MANY GUNSHOTS’
The deceased had several gunshot injuries on his chest, said the cleric’s maternal uncle, Ibrahim Akhtar, who was involved in bathing his dead body.
“One bullet had pierced one side of his temple as well. In addition, the body had many bruises as if he was assaulted with sharp objects,” he told NewsClick.
Saad was sleeping in a room in the mosque premises along with another employee from Araria in Bihar, who too has got bullet shots on his leg, waist and above neck. He is in the intensive care unit at a Gurugram-based hospital.
Three others were assaulted, but they were not fired at. “In another room where they were sleeping, a gas cylinder was set ablaze to cause explosion,” said an eyewitness.
CRIES FOR ‘JUSTICE’
Cries for ‘justice’ rent the air at Maniyadih.
“What was the fault of my son? Why did the mob attack him and not others who were present inside the mosque? I want justice. I want nothing else from the government,” said Saad’s crestfallen father Mushtaq, smelling a “conspiracy” against his son.
He was planning to go to Muzaffarpur to receive his two sons who had arrive by train as scheduled.
The bereaved man still disbelieves his eyes that saw the hearse carrying the mortal remains of his young son.
A young deputy imam, who was seen in a video praying for Hindu-Muslim amity, was killed after a mosque was set ablaze on Tuesday in a Gurugram suburb known as Millennium City, barely an hour’s drive from the Prime Minister’s residence in the capital.
CLERIC HAD SOUGHT COMMUNAL AMITY
In a video shared by Rasool, Saad was seen reciting a poem — praying to God to make an India where Hindus and Muslims live in amity.
A couplet of the poem says:
“Hindu-Muslim baith ke khaye thaali mei,
Aisa Hindustan bana de ya Allah”
(Where Hindus and Muslims break bread on the same plate, Make such an India, O Allah.)
CHANTS OF ‘JAI SHRI RAM’
The police have registered a first information report (FIR) against 11 named person and 90-100 unidentified people under sections of 148, 149, 153-A, 186, 302, 307,323, 353, 427, 436 and 452 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 25 (I-B)(a) of the Arms Act.
The FIR states that 90-100 armed people surrounded the Anjuman Masjid at around 12:15 a.m, chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and went on rampage.
“Some of them were muffled (sic). They pelted stones and fired at the police party present there. The violent mob outnumbered the police and set the mosque on fire. Some of them barged into the mosque and opened fire,” reads the FIR, accessed by NewsClick.
The bullets, says the FIR, hit Saad and Khurshid Alam (a resident of Jokihat in Bihar’s Araria district). The two were sent for treatment. Two others — Mohammad Izhar (from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh) and Shahabuddin (from Bulandshar in Uttar Pradesh) — were rescued from inside the mosque.
“While Saad, who was grievously injured, died in the hospital, Izhar is undergoing treatment,” it states.
The violence in Mewat and adjoining regions are no isolated incidents of “hate crimes”, feels Nadeem Khan of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights who had arranged an ambulance to carry Saad’s body to Bihar, attempting to debunk the narrative that the riots erupted following an “attack” on the procession in Nuh.
“How can a procession in which highly objectionable slogans are raised, targeting another religion, be called a religious rally, and its participants brandishing weapons be described as devotees?” he asked, and alleged that the police turned a blind eye to the extreme provocation that apparently led to the violence.
Hate speeches of infamous cow vigilante Monu Manesar, who is a criminal and prime accused of the brutal killings of Junaid and Nasir, and Bittu Bajrangi, another cow vigilante, were being broadcast from a particular Facebook page and shared by many, instigating the other side, but the police chose to turn a blind eye.
“Why were such posts not taken down, and the people involved not taken into custody? The deliberate inaction of the police and glorification of Manesar by none other Haryana’s Home Minister Anil Vij speaks volumes. Therefore, we are saying that the incident in Nuh follows a pattern and is not an isolated incident of violence,” he alleged.
Khan said the APCR would fight a legal battle if the victim families give its consent to ensure that the injured and kin of the deceased are given adequate compensation and the culprits are brought to book.
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