‘My only crime is that my name identifies my religion

A detailed Reports The source shouted the victory slogan of the Hindu god, Lord Rama, before pulling the trigger, which shot Muhammad Nasir Khan in the left eye.

Khan placed his trembling hand on the socket of the bloody eye and his fingers slipped deeply towards the wound. At the time, he believed he would die.

Last year in his neighborhood in the Indian capital – when India’s worst sectarian riots in decades took place, Khan escaped violence that killed 53 others, most of them fellow Muslims.

The 35-year-old is still reeling and his attacker has not yet been convicted. Khan says he is unable to get justice because of the police’s lack of interest in his case.

Khan, who was shot dead by a Hindu mob in February 2020, at his home in North Gonda, one of the neighborhoods most affected by the riots.

“My only crime is that my name indicates my religion,” Khan said at his home in the northern Gonda neighborhood of New Delhi.

Many Muslims who have been victims of last year’s bloody violence say they have repeatedly protested the police’s refusal to investigate complaints against Hindu rioters.

Some still hope that the courts will help them, while others believe that the justice system under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is now working against them.

Adding to the sense of injustice is the fact that reports from Muslim victims as well as rights groups indicate that leaders of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the New Delhi Police Force have targeted Hindus during the crackdown. Crowd supported.

New Delhi police did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but insisted last year that their investigation was fair and that about 1,150 people had been charged in connection with the riots – including Half of them are Hindus.

Junior Home Minister G. Kishan Reddy has similarly told Parliament that the police were quick and impartial.

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But a senior police officer sent a letter to investigators five months after the riots broke out, suggesting that he suspected violence against Hindus, which has been criticized by the Delhi High Court.

In this photo from February 27, 2020, a Muslim boy stands inside a mosque set ablaze in sectarian violence in New Delhi.

Sectarian clashes erupted in India after the British partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

But observers say that, over the past seven years, the religious polarization run by Modi’s party’s Hindu-nationalist base has deepened the fault line and increased tensions.

Many believe that the catalyst for last year’s riots was a sharp speech by BJP member Kapil Mishra.

On February 23, 2020, he issued an ultimatum to the police, warning them to end the sit-in by protesters, which Muslims say is discriminatory, or they and their supporters will do it themselves.

When his supporters advanced, he started street fights which quickly turned into riots. For the next three days, Hindu mobs went out of control, hunting down Muslims on the streets – in some cases burning them in their homes. And set fire to the entire neighborhood, including shops and mosques.

Mishra rejected the notion that he was responsible for the riots, and called the claims of “covering up the Hindu plot by Muslims” “propaganda”.

On Monday, he said his party had nothing to do with the violence, but added: “What I did last year, I will do it again if need be.”

Many in the region’s Hindu community have accused him of trying to make India “bad”. Starting violence.

Muhammad Zubair, 37, was beaten during a riot by a group of rioting men in a February 24, 2020 photo.

‘Losing all hope of justice’

A year later, many Muslim victims of the riots still fear more bloodshed. Hundreds have fled their homes, many have been sold at exorbitant prices and relocated.

Those who chose to stay have fortified their neighborhoods with metal gates in the event of a large crowd. Many say they fear those responsible will never be held accountable.

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“Everything has changed since the riots,” Khan said. “I feel like I’m slowly losing all hope for justice.”

After being shot, Khan spent 20 days in hospital recovering. Since then, they have been seeking justice, which they say is an obstacle to the police at every turn.

According to the Associated Press, Khan’s official police complaint named at least six Hindus from his neighborhood who he said had taken part in the violence.

“The accused still come to my house and threaten to kill my entire family,” Khan said in the complaint. He added that he was willing to identify them in court.

His complaint was never officially accepted.

However, the police registered their complaints, presenting a version of the incidents that led Khan to walk at least one kilometer (0.6 miles) from where he was shot, indicating that he was involved in two clashes. He was injured in the exchange of fire. He did not identify his attackers.

Picture of 31-year-old Muhammad Mudassir, who was killed in sectarian violence in New Delhi on February 27, 2020, lamentation of relatives and neighbors

The stories of many other Muslim victims follow a similar pattern. Police and investigators have dismissed hundreds of complaints against Hindu rioters, citing a lack of evidence despite the accounts of several witnesses.

They include a man who saw his brother being severely shot, the father of a 4-month-old baby who witnessed his house being set on fire and the Hindu mob losing both his arms after throwing a crude bomb at him. Sent a little boy.

Now, many people visit the office of lawyer Mahmood Paracha weekly in the hope of justice. Very few people have seen their attackers put behind bars. Many others are still awaiting trial.

Paracha, a Muslim, is representing at least 100 riot victims free of charge. He said there were numerous instances in which police were provided with videos of Hindu mobs, many of whom were affiliated with Modi’s party, but “it seems that the police are anxious to impose Muslims.” ۔

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In many cases, he said, Muslims were “threatened to withdraw their grievances.”

“The police have acted as accomplices in the crime,” Paracha said.

Numerous videos of the AP riots show police trying to stone Muslims in a Hindu mob, destroy surveillance cameras and beat up a group of Muslim men – one of whom was killed. It happened later.

Multiple independent fact-finding missions and rights groups have documented the role of the police in the riots.

In June 2020, Human Rights Watch said police had “failed to respond appropriately” during the riots and sometimes “involved” in attacks on Muslims. It also said authorities had “failed to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation”.

Aaron, who is known by one name, said he was “still afraid to go out in the evening.”

During the riots, he saw his brother Maroof being shot by his Hindu neighbors. Despite numerous eyewitnesses, the police never identified the accused in their complaint.

Haroon, meanwhile, said he had been threatened by police and the accused to withdraw his complaint.

“We were alone then and now we are alone,” he said with tears in his eyes as his dead brother’s two children sat beside him.

Aaron looked at them and said: “I don’t know what to do.”
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