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From Dadri to Hapur, bloodstains left behind by lynching are signs of horrific times we’re living in

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    I am confused and afraid
    I wonder what path I will take
    I hear that there's only two ways out
    I see mothers bury their sons
    I want my mom to never feel that pain
    I am confused and afraid

    I pretend all is fine
    I feel like I'm suffocating
    I touch nothing so I believe all is fine
    I worry that it isn't though
    I cry no more
    I am confused and afraid

    I understand people believe I'm just a statistic
    I say to them I'm different
    I dream of life getting easier
    I try my best to make my dream true
    I hope that it does
    I am confused and afraid

    ***

    This is a heart-wrenching poem, I am not what you think!, written by 17-year-old American teenager Antwon Rose, who was recently shot dead by a policeman in Pittsburgh, US. The brutal murder of Rose, the unarmed black teenager, evoked strong reactions as Americans took to the streets to protest.

    hapur lynching

    Days after his murder, his family released the poem Rose wrote two years ago, which shockingly proved prophetic. Rose's fear, confusion and anguish reflected in his poem were not unfounded. Several innocent persons of colour have been killed, injured and humiliated in the recent times in the world's "greatest democracy" which has seen an ugly renewal of racial and religious tension after President Donald Trump took charge of the country in 2017.

    Unlike, Rose, 45-year-old Qasim, who was recently lynched in Uttar Pradesh's Hapur did not leave behind any notes (forget about a poem). Probably, he too had fear of being targeted by a mob for being a Muslim and a cattle-trader.

    Qasim is the latest addition in a long list of victims of mob lynching across the country in the last few years. Along with Qasim, another Muslim man, 65-year-old Samayuddin, was also attacked by the mob, but fortunately he survived and is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital as he sustained grievous injuries.

    Rose was right, victims of hate crimes and sporadic violence are mere statistics shown in the stylishly designed graphics of media reports. Although there is no government data to establish the number of lynching episodes in the country, a report by The Quint says 58 persons have been killed in mob violence in India since 2015.

    Shockingly, more than 90 per cent of the victims of lynching are Muslims. Most of the victims were attacked on suspicion of being cow smuggler. Two viral videos (one released on Saturday) of Hapur lynching clearly suggest that the victims were attacked by the mob on suspicion of cow smuggling. The police, however, say it was a case of road rage. Qasim's family denied any involvement of the deceased in cow smuggling.

    Qasim's relative said the victim's killing was on account of his religious beliefs. "He (Qasim) was thrashed mercilessly. The incident was pre-planned. He was killed because of his religion," Irfan, a relative of Qasim, told ANI.

    Irfan added that allegation of cow slaughtering leveled on Qasim was false and baseless, as the latter did not have any enmity with anyone, and used to visit the village only for selling cattle.

    While the police and the victim's family maintain two different versions of the brutal murder captured on smartphone camera, the viral image of Qasim, half naked and soaked in blood, being dragged by mob in presence of policemen depicts another low level to which humanity could plunge into.

    The first video of Qasim's lynching showed how while his listless body was lying on the ground he struggled for a while to move feebly to beg for water. Nobody took mercy on the dying man and fulfilled his last wish of having some water. If this does not crack our hearts and bring tears to our eyes, how much horror do we need to witness?

    Are people like Qasim, Mohammad Akhlaq of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, Pehlu Khan of Haryana and teenager Junaid of Uttar Pradesh killed to fulfill the demonic desires of the majoritarian mob?

    The government is looking the other way, men in khaki are mere eyewitnesses, courts are too burdened with backlogs, NGOs have been silenced and helpless Muslims are being killed. This is not the achhe din (good day) we were looking for.

    Maybe, Prime Minister Narendra Modi "sabka saath sabka vikas" (together with all, development for all) slogan has no literal sense. It's just another catchy and well-crafted jingle to woo voters. Sadly, voters did fall for the political trap and the country has slipped into a deep abyss reminiscent of a jungle raj.

    Rose's nightmare--his mother burying his body--has come true. The teenager's mother is in pain. The parents, children and relatives of Qasim are in pain too. Like Rose, Qasim too was a man with a dream of having an "easier life". Alas, in these times of hatred, suspicion and bigotry, simple dreams come at a heavy price.

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