As hundreds of cars visited the village in the last month, the children woke up to every car’s sound thinking that their father had come back. However, the reality is extremely unfortunate.
On February 16, Junaid, along with another Muslim man Nasir, were allegedly attacked and abducted by a mob that later set them ablaze, alive while they were inside their car. This is said to have happened after accusations of cow smuggling were made against the victims.
Their charred bodies were found in a Bolero car in Barwas village, which falls under the Loharu police station area of Haryana’s Bhiwani.
The Rajasthan Police have identified eight accused in the case: Rinku Saini, Monu, Vikas, Rajesh, Sandeep, Rajkumar, Sachin and Ankit.
Rinku Saini is the only one who has been arrested so far.
A changed environment
Within a month, the villagers have seen what they never saw in the past: heavy police, protests, politicians, and promises to get justice.
Since the news of the murder, peaceful agitations have been ongoing in Rajasthan’s Ghatmeeka, the village of Junaid and Nasir. On March 2, officials told the protesters that they would arrest all the accused in 10 days, and had asked the protesters to end their protest.
“Our constitution gives us the right to protest, then why are the officials pressurising the family of the deceased to stop protesting,” Jabir, one of the protesters, told The Wire. “It has been a month since our brothers were killed, if the police wanted [to arrest the accused], they would have arrested them all back then, but we don’t think it is possible now,” he said.
Nasir’s family, who had told The Wire that the protests could distract the police from the main goal of bringing the accused to justice, are now supporting the protesters.
Nasir’s sister, Sharda, sitting at the construction site where Nasir’s home was to be built, looks at his photo and says, “I met him four months ago. I had promised to give him a bike [motorcycle] since we have one extra at home. He was going to come to take it, but he never returned from the journey. I wish I could go back in time and stop him from going.”
Sharda hopes that one day the police will arrest all the accused.
Inspector General (IG) Gaurav Srivastav, in a telephonic conversation, told The Wire that “only eight names have come out so far, but there are many more who were involved and we are looking for them.”
When asked why the accused have not been arrested even after a month, he said, “Our team has been out [looking for the accused] since the very first day [since the murder happened]. They will only come back after arresting all the accused. As I said earlier, there may be many others who are involved in this matter and our team is looking into that.”
Nasir’s family alleged that the Rajasthan Police is mentally torturing and pressurising them. They have allegedly asked Jabir and other protesters not to protest against the delay in delivering justice to the families.
When The Wire asked the IG about whether the police are trying to stop the protests, he said, “We are not pressurising them. Our main goal is to arrest the accused and bring them [the family of Junaid and Nasir] justice.”
On March 2, chief minister Ashok Gehlot met the families of Junaid and Nasir.
During his visit, Gehlot announced a relief package of Rs 5 lakh – including Rs 1 lakh in cash and Rs 4 lakh in a fixed deposit – for the kin of each victim.
So far, the family members have received only Rs 1 lakh in their accounts. The fixed deposit money is yet to be transferred.
The local administration told The Wire that the fixed deposit is also under process and it will be completed within a few days.
The wives of Junaid and Nasir are on Iddat – a period of waiting observed by Muslim women after the divorce or death of their husband.
Junaid’s elder brother, who is differently abled, doesn’t know anything except that his brother was burnt alive. His brother-in-law told The Wire that a month has passed but Nasir and Junaid are yet to receive any justice.
Jabir and a few others who resumed protest on March 12, after pausing it for 10 days, claimed that the police could have arrested the accused if they wanted to.
One of the persons who was at the forefront of the protest told The Wire, on condition of anonymity, “Those who are sitting at the protest site at Ghatmeeka Eidgah do not care for Junaid and Nasir, neither do they want justice for them. They are sitting because they want money and have political dreams for the Rajasthan elections.”
Courtesy The Wire