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
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
He is filled with bitterness. “ Sooner or later, the killers must be
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.