Friday, May 24, 2024

Muslim youth lynched to death in Assam’s Morigaon, survivor says familiar men among mob

On July 25, Saddam Hussain of Borbari Ahotpam village was lynched to death by a mob of Hindu residents of Ahotguri village in the Morigaon district of central Assam. Saddam along with five Muslim youths were returning from Naramari village, around 7 km away from their homes when they were attacked by the Hindu mob.

Hussain, along with Mirajul Hoque, Anarul Hoque, Bilal Hussain, Samsul Hoque and Abul Hussain were travelling on bikes after watching the final match of a local kabaddi league was accused of stealing cows, a suspicion the victims who escaped the lynch mob deny.

The six fellow villagers and friends were sports enthusiasts as one of them is a well-known football player in the area.

Anarul Hoque is known as Messi in the area for his brilliant goal-scoring talents. His brother, Mirajul Hoque, is seriously injured in the lynching attempt.

“People in the area do not recognise me if you say, Anarul Hoque. They know me as Messi because I play at the striker position”, Anarul told Maktoob adding he “could still see how the mob was beating them”.

Despite being known as a talented footballer in the area, Anarul and his friends could not get away from the “attackers who just intended to kill us” as he put it.

“When the game was over, we started for our home and reached Ahotguri at around 1:30 am (Tuesday morning). As it was raining, we stopped under tin shade along the road. At that moment, a group of 7-8 people rounded us and one of them said isn’t that you, Messi?” Anarul narrated how the assault began. 

As Anarul was sure that everybody knew him, he replied affirming his identity. “They knew every one of us. Still, they accused us of stealing cows. When I said that we were not thieves and went to watch the kabaddi match and also asked them to verify, they hit me so badly that my vision became blurry”.

The Muslim men told the mob that they were travelling on bikes and it was not possible to steal cattle. They were tripling on two bikes. Yet more people joined the mob.

“It was clear that they are going to kill us. I felt their only intention was to finish us. So I asked all of them to run for life. Though I could only see blurry things, I said, you start running for your life, I will manage,” Anarul narrated the ordeal.

However, while Anarul, Samsul and Abul were able to escape the mob, the other three were caught by the angry villagers.

Successfully escaping from the spot, Anarul went to his elder brother Mainul Hoque and asked him to save their younger brother Mirajul. On hearing that his brother was being beaten, Mainul along with his 10-year-old son rushed to the spot.

When Mainul reached the spot, he was not allowed to go near the victims.

“They also beat him and the boy”, Anarul said. Escaping the mob himself, Mainul went to get help from the police.

In the meantime, Saddam’s elder brother Samsuddin also went to the local station—Darumtol police station.

Samsuddin along with police reached the spot in the night but the police could not rescue the victims. Video recordings from the night, which were shared on social media, show the police were present at the scene on the night.

They could only get the men out of the Hindu Village at around 11 am the next morning. Saddam was later declared dead and Mirajul and Billal are in hospital under treatment. Both the bikes were burnt down by the mob and they also attacked the local press vehicles when they reached the scene.

Saddam’s other elder brother, Nasir, told Maktoob, “It was not just the six men were attacked. A fish seller from Borbari village was going to Morigaon town unaware of the situation at early dawn. Ajim Uddin (the fish seller) was also brutally attacked for just taking that road in the morning.”

Nasir said Saddam would only work as a labourer, sometimes in coalmines in Meghalaya and sometime in southern states to sustain his family of four members. “Except for work, he would not go out. He would come back and play with his 5-year-old daughter. It was only matches that he would attend and enjoy,” Nasir added.

“Saddam’s 7-year-old son and the daughter were orphaned just because he went to watch the kabaddi match”.

Despite police’s presence the mob even kicked and stomped the still bodies of the three victims, the videos accessed by Maktoob show.

IGP Prasant Kumar Bhuyan told the media that three cows were stolen from Ahotguri village and the people were angry, which resulted in mob violence.

“Police party went and they were attacked. Even a police vehicle was attacked. Reinforcement party went in the morning and the victims were rescued,” said Bhuyan assuring strict punishment for the people involved in the lynching.

Police had arrested eight people involved in the mob lynching.

On the arrests, Anarul said, “Those who attacked us in the night have not been arrested. Just because we are poor, don’t we deserve justice? We are Muslims, is that why we are not getting any justice?

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