Eid at Ballabgarh: Villagers mourn, wear black bands to protest killing of Muslim boy
In Khandawali village of Ballabgarh, men are proceeding to offer prayers at the local idgah. They are dressed in white but the usual gaiety that comes with Eid is missing. They have tied black armbands and are discussing how the festival this year is so insipid.
Most people in this village refrained from wearing new clothes this time at Eid. The women too did not dress up for the festival.
Locals say there were no last minute preparations, no aroma of biryani emanating from households, no sweets being exchanged and no laughter. Just the occasional wails from inside Junaid’s home, who was killed on June 22 while returning home with his brothers on a train after shopping for Eid in Delhi’s Sadar Bazar. The boys had an argument with some fellow passengers who allegedly called them ‘beef-eaters’, taunted and heckled them before it turned violent. Junaid was killed after two hours on the train and his brothers were injured.
“Eid means a lot of colours around, food being cooked, children playing on the streets and all of us cheering, laughing and eating together. Look around, do you find anything of this?” said Mohammad Irfan. “How could we celebrate when Junaid’s family is mourning. It will be a sin. We stand in solidarity with them,” he added and left for prayers.
Another villager, Ashraf, said he had never seen such few people turn up for Eid prayers. “There is no place to stand here on Eid. So many people come for namaz. Today there is hardly a crowd. Last year, we did not get space so we sat outside in the park. The mats are spread out till a kilometre,” he said.
Just a few metres away, at Junaid’s home, his mother Saira lay on a cot surrounded by women from the neighbourhood. The women try to coax Saira to take bath and at least offer prayers. “She has been lying in the same clothes for two days. She has not eaten. I have been telling her to at least offer namaz but she won’t listen,” Shabana said.
The kitchen is desolate. The utensils that were taken out last week to prepare savouries lie untouched beside the stacked Biryani masala.
“This is the first Eid in 60 years when I have not worn new bangles and not cooked biryani. I tried waking up in the morning to make something sweet as a token, but could not. Usually on Eid, I wake up at 3am and start preparing food. We all get ready in new clothes and exchange sweets. This year it is the neighbours who are getting us food. I can’t get the thought of Junaid not being with us,” said Maqsuda, Junaid’s aunt.
She lifts Saira, gets her the Quran. “Get up now. Wash your face and offer prayers. You cannot not pray on Eid and disrespect Allah. Don’t cry while chanting the sermons,” she tells her.