Wednesday, May 29, 2024

“I felt like they would rape me”: Muslim woman attacked by alleged right-wing group in MP

Zarrin Khan, a Muslim medical practitioner was brutally attacked, molested, and attempted to be raped by four unidentified men and a woman in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain District on Friday.

The 23-year-old, physiotherapist by profession, was returning from her work on July 28 at around 5:30 pm on her scooter when she was stopped by four men who started abusing and thrashing her in the Gola Mandi area.

The Gola Mandi is a Hindu-dominant area and the incident took place when she was passing by to reach her home in the Chitera Bhakal area, adjacent to it.

The mob had sharp weapons, swords, bats, and iron rods with them which they used to attack her. During the assault, they groped, molested, and tore her clothes.

Her cousin Touqeer, who was passing by came to rescue her but the mob didn’t spare him and thrashed him with iron rods and bats.

A video of the incident that surfaced on social media sites also substantiates the incident and Touqeer can be seen being assaulted by a group of men.

Khan’s brother told Maktoob, “She has endured multiple injuries and is currently admitted to the local Government hospital, and her cousin Tauqeer is also under diagnosis.”

He said, “She is terrified of the incident, whenever she wakes up, recall the harrowing experience and faint.”

“I cannot believe what had happened with me. I was simply returning home after attending to a patient. A mob of 3-4 people appeared in front of my eyes all of a sudden at Gola Mandi, Mirchi Nala area and they took the keys of my scooter and started abusing me calling me ‘Mulli’ and ‘Jihadan’ and told me that I should not pass from this area as it was their area. As I was trying to defend myself, one of them tore my clothes and even tried to snatch my hijab,” Khan told to Maktoob.

She said, “They had sharp objects and tried to ruin my face and they started molesting and groping me, at one moment I felt like they would rape me.”

“When I cried for help and begged in front of them to stop and spare me, they said tu kuch nahi kar sakti, prashasan hamara hai, hamara koi kuch nahi bigad sakta, police hamari jeb me hai, yahan bhi Manipur bana denge (You cannot do anything, the administration is ours, no one can harm us, the administration is ours and we keep it in our pocket, we will repeat what happened in Manipur with women)”, she added.

She further said that a woman from a nearby house bought a sword and handed it over to the men and asked them to kill her and cut her into pieces.

“I asked the woman if she would do the same with her own daughter and she replied, tu meri beti to nahi hai (You are not my daughter), I left stunned by what I heard”, she told Maktoob.

“When my cousin Touqeer came to save me, they beat him up brutally with pipes and attacked him with rods and other weapons. The most unfortunate part is that, when they were beating us, nobody from the area came to our rescue or to stop them, they came, and gathered around us to see what was happening, but remained mute spectators, nobody dared to intervene, speak or save us”, she added.

Later both the victims anyhow saved their lives as they ran towards their area, some 3 kilometers away from the place of incident. Family members of both victims came to their rescue and went to the police station. 

First, they went to Jiwajiganj Police Station from where they were diverted to Kharakuwa Police Station as it was not the former’s area of jurisdiction.

After locals picketed the Kharakua Police station, the cops registered a First Information Report (FIR) against 3 people including a woman under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 341(Wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 294(Obscene act in public), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 54 (Commutation of sentence of death) of Indian Penal Code.

Kharkua Police says that it was not a significant case of molestation or assault and the investigation is underway.

A police officer, speaking to the media said, “It happened after a scuffle and we have lodged a complaint based on the victim’s ordeal and if any more names come up, a required action will be taken.”

However, the family of the victim accused the police of distorting the facts while writing their complaint and calling it a scuffle and a personal feud between the two groups.

Khan’s brother refuted the claims made by police and said, “The police didn’t include the statements Zarrin gave, imposed very minor sections on the assaulters, and dealt with the case leniently too.”

He also said, “Initially police were not ready to take our complaint calling it a minor scuffle between two groups but only our my sister and cousin Touqeer was brutally assaulted. So much so that they are scared to even talk about it. If they would not have escaped, they would kill them or rape her.”

“After much public outrage and community pressure police finally filed a complaint at night”, he added.

In a video statement of Zarrin shared with Maktoob she also alleged that police changed her statement in the FIR.

She said, “When I told the police that, while attacking, the assaulters said to me that the administration and police are in their pockets, the police said it’s for everyone, but it doesn’t seem like that, else they would not have changed my statements.

Maktoob also spoke with Touqeer Khan, a civil engineer, who attempted to rescue Zarrin but became a victim himself as the mob assaulted and thrashed him too.

He told Maktoob, “I was so amazed to see the bystanders as no one batted an eye while they were beating a woman mercilessly, they tore her clothes too. She is my distant relative and a cousin; I couldn’t resist and intervened to save her.”

“When I went there they started beating me. I saw with my own eyes and heard the woman handing a sword to those men and telling them to kill Zarrin”, he said.

He also accused police of not filing a separate FIR which he wanted to do as he was beaten and has sustained severe injuries but police refused to file his complaint and added his statement in the same FIR.

He said, “It is very evident with the videos that who was being beaten and who was beating, yet police is unnecessarily trying to portray it as a personal feud case.”

He also informed Maktoob that the men who assaulted Zarrin and him are associated with right-wing organizations.

He alleged, “Two of them are members of Akhil Bhrtiya Vidhyarti Parishad (Student wing of Bhartiya Janata Party) and Bajrang Dal and some of them are a part of Rashtriya Swayem Sewak Sangh.”

“We handed over one of our assaulters on the spot to the Kharkua Police, don’t know what action has been taken against him”, he added.

Currently, Zarrin Khan is admitted to the Civil Hospital in Ujjain and Touqeer Khan is also under treatment.

Maktoob tried to reach the Thana In charge (TI) AKA Superintendent of Police, Rajvir Singh Gurjar at Kharkua Police Station but was told that he has been transferred to another police station 4 days ago.

Maktoob tried to approach the newly appointed TI, Ballu but didn’t receive a response as multiple calls went unanswered.

Police Inaction called out

Ujjain’s Congress leader, Noori Khan met the victim and demanded the arrest of all the accused involved in the matter within three days, or else they will resort to protest.

Talking about Ujjain Police’s action in handling the cases, she said, “If Ujjain Police is demolishing houses of the accused, as they did in the alleged spitting row, then houses of the accused involved in this case should also be demolished.”

Locals claim that Ujjain Police is diverting the case and making it a matter of personal enmity, ahead of Mahakal ki Sawar (A Hindu religious procession) and accused Kharkua Police of not taking in-time appropriate measures.

An eyewitness of the incident, who didn’t wish to be named told, “The cops are not taking any action, and the FIR was only registered after locals created pressure. Yesterday the police said that they will arrest the accused, now they are calling it a clash.”

It is noteworthy that last week, Kharkua Police arrested 3 Muslim men and razed one’s three storey-building to the ground which was home to a family over allegations of spitting on a religious procession amid music, drums, and DJ.

Moreover, tension still prevails in the city, and security is spruced up in the area keeping in mind Ashura and the upcoming Mahakal ki sawari scheduled for next Monday, July 31.

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