ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why Junaid’s Murder Matters

Why Junaid’s Murder Matters

At the present time, every protest against hate politics should be welcomed.

There have been other lynchings, more than 20 in the first half of this year. But the daylight murder of 15-year-old Junaid Khan on a train between Delhi and Mathura on 22 June has touched a chord in a way the others have not. It is not just that he was so young, or that he was travelling home after spending the day shopping for Eid. It is because a young boy harming no one was murdered for only one reason, that he was Muslim and could be identified as one. That essentially is the most worrying implication of Junaid’s killing—that any Muslim whose appearance marks him or her out can be attacked in an India where such hatred has been officially endorsed as a marker of the love for the sacred cow. When the lynchings in the name of the cow began, one could have predicted that this would be the final outcome where the cow is not even evident, just the fact of the cow and the consumption of beef is enough to target, taunt and even terminate the life of an individual.

Junaid’s killing holds out several lessons. With his brothers, he was doing what an ordinary Indian would do—shopping, travelling on a local train, minding his own business. But even this he was not permitted to do. What is being called an “altercation” over seats turned in no time into a hate crime, where Junaid and his brothers were mocked for being “beef eaters,” called Pakistanis, their skullcaps were pulled off, the beard of one was pulled and then the crowd proceeded to hit them and beat them and finally stab them. Unlike the gau rakshaks who were identified in other lynchings, the men involved in this crime were not a unified group; they were individuals united by their hatred for Muslims. It is also striking that not one person in that crowded compartment tried to stop these men. Worse still, while Junaid lay bleeding on the railway platform after he and his brothers were pushed out, no one in a crowd of an estimated 200 people thought it necessary to help, to call an ambulance or the police. It is this silence and complicity in crime, and also the extent to which hatred has permeated the lives of people, that needs to be broken before many more Junaids are similarly targeted.

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Updated On : 27th Aug, 2017

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