Mohsin Shaikh murder: Lynch mobs have become emboldened since BJP came to power, says victim's father
'Since Narendra Modi came to power, lynch mobs have been emboldened. They are busy polarising people', said the father of murdered techie Mohsin Shaikh.
Sadiq Shaikh, 63, is indebted to two of his family friends. "They have been looking after me and my family financially," he said. "If not for them, I wonder how we would have survived."
Sadiq is the father of Mohsin Shaikh. The 24-year old techie who was lynched on 2 June, 2014, in Pune. His was the first instance of what has since become an epidemic in India.
It has been over four years since they lost an earning member but, Sadiq said, the family has received little help. "The Minority Commission from the Centre visited me in August 2014," he said. "They asked me what my demands are and promised to fulfil them. I had asked for a fast track court to ensure justice within a year, and a government job for my younger son, Mubin... Rs 50 lakh as compensation, and a ban on Hindu Rashtra Sena, which is involved in the murder of my son."
None of the demands has been met. "Four years later, they have not even framed charges," complained Sadiq. "Ujjwal Nikam (special public prosecutor) abruptly walked away from the case as well."
Mohsin, who had just landed a job at Wipro, was on his way back after Namaaz to his room in Pune. Morphed photographs of Shivaji Maharaj and Bal Thackeray had gone viral on Facebook at the time. Outraged over the photographs, alleged members of the radical group Hindu Rashtra Sena went on a rampage, vandalising cars and buses on the streets. Few of them caught hold of Mohsin and started beating him up with hockey sticks.
"He was with our roommate Riyaz," said Mubin. "I had another bike. After some time, Riyaz called me and said Mohsin had been attacked. When I reached there, he was bloodied... No bystander intervened."
Initially, 22 were arrested and jailed. "Now, only two are behind bars," said Sadiq. "The rest are out on bail. They had ensured justice within a year."
While granting bail to three of the accused, the Bombay High Court had noted in January last year: "The applicants/accused otherwise had no other motive such as any personal enmity against the innocent deceased Mohsin. The fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion. I consider this factor in favour of the applicants/accused. Moreover, the applicants/accused do not have a criminal record and it appears that in the name of the religion, they were provoked and have committed the murder."
Sadiq, who lives in Solapur with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, challenged the bail in Supreme Court. The cases are on in Pune and the Bombay High Court as well. "I have spent more than Rs 50,000 pursuing the case," he said. "The state government of Maharashtra had extended help of Rs 5 lakh immediately after Mohsin was killed. But I have received no assistance since then. I was told I am eligible for the Centre's victim relief fund. I have completed all the formalities with the concerned authorities but I have not seen the money."
Last month, on 14 June, the Maharashtra government issued a Government Resolution, stating that Mohsin's family will get Rs 5 lakh each from the state and Centre. "It has been over a month, I am still waiting for it," said Sadiq. "The sole source of income right now is Mubin’s salary."
Mubin works as a sales executive in a Maruti Suzuki showroom in Solapur, earning a salary of Rs 8,000. "That is hardly enough," Sadiq said. "Our monthly expenses are Rs 20,000. I have diabetes, my wife has blood pressure... our medicines cost more than a thousand rupees every month. Which is why we had asked for a job for Mubin. I am thankful to my two family friends who have helped us financially. They have assured me they will stand by me until the case is concluded and Mubin gets a better job. If Mohsin had been alive, he would have had a salary of around Rs 50,000."
The family owned a Xerox shop in Solapur, but Sadiq said the machine has now become out-dated and he does not have the money to revive it. "Also, I have been travelling consistently, so I have kept it shut for the past three-four years," he said.
Sadiq, therefore, is considering selling his 30-year old plot. "I cannot rely on my friends forever," he said. "I have to return their loans. I am hoping the plot would solve some of my economic problems."
Mubin used to live with Mohsin in Pune, working for a better salary. But after Mohsin was killed, the family panicked and called Mubin back. "My wife and I told him that we have lost one son, we do not want to lose another," said Sadiq. "He had a bright future in Pune. Solapur does not have great job opportunities."
The interview with Sadiq transpired a day after the Supreme Court's observations on the spate of mob lynching. "It is the duty of the state to ensure that the machinery of law and order functions efficiently and effectively in maintaining peace so as to preserve our quintessentially secular ethos and pluralistic social fabric in a democratic set-up governed by rule of law," the bench said while noting 11 points.
Sadiq said this should have happened way before. "But, better late than never," he said.
"Since Narendra Modi has come to power, the lynch mobs have been emboldened. They are busy polarising people and want minorities to be second class citizens. Humanity is being sucked out of the society."
Does he feel like a second-class citizen? "In my colony, there are only two Muslim families, while 32 are non-Muslims," he said. "But we have a great relationship with each other. I have never felt marginalised. This is my country. I will never let myself believe that I am a second-class citizen of India."
Yet, Sadiq is reluctant to send Mubin back to Pune. "My wife still breaks down thinking of Mohsin," he said. "We have somehow managed to get her out of depression. I do not think she will be comfortable with Mubin outside Solapur. At least, not yet."
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