‘He said I’ll kill you’: Mob did not spare even kids, says Gurugram family
When the mob of men, some of whom were inebriated , barged into Mohammad Sajid’s house in Gurugram on Thursday evening with rods and sticks, the adults screamed for the children to hide. Some members of the household fled to the terrace, and others tried to reason with the men.
Three of the children hid in an almirah, but say they were pulled out and thrashed in a terrifying half-an-hour ordeal, parts of which were captured on a mobile phone and went viral on social media on Friday.
Although the incident started with a minor altercation when some of the boys from Sajid’s extended family were playing cricket (and the ball hit one of the men), it rapidly acquired communal tones with the mob reportedly asking members of Sajid’s family to go to Pakistan.
On Saturday, members of the family said none of their neighbours came to their rescue because the area is predominantly Hindu. They said they were considering moving out.
At least 12 members of the joint family, including children as young as one and a half years old, were injured when the mob of 15 men allegedly used sticks, water pipes and iron rods to attack them following the altercation on the day of Holi. A video shot by one of the family members who escaped to the roof showed the men raining blows on some of the victims as other women relatives cried for help.
The children are still living in fear that it could happen again and wonder whether, if it did, the mob would burn them alive as some of the attackers had threatened to before leaving the house on Thursday.
“I was playing with my cousin when my mother shouted to lock the room and hide in the almirah. I pulled my brother and tried to lock the almirah but within a few minutes three uncles came and pulled us out. One of them threw me on the bed and slapped me. I begged for mercy but two of them hit me with sticks and kicked my face,” said one of the children, a six-year-old girl, an Upper Kindergarten student, displaying her injuries.
The children have not stepped out of the house since Thursday evening.
Himanshu Garg, deputy commissioner of police (south), said the children were taken to hospital and were given first aid. They were discharged the same day and are reported to be fine.
The police on Friday arrested one of the main suspects, Mahesh Kumar, who lives in a village 1.5km away. According to Garg, the suspect said during interrogation that the altercation started when he and a friend, who were inebriated, were struck by a ball hit by one of the victims who were playing cricket. The men left after a brief argument and returned with more people, who barged into the home.
“I was frightened after I saw one of the uncles hitting my father. I started crying and slid below the bed, but one of them spotted me and dragged me and kicked me hard on my head. He slapped me and pulled my hair. He said I will kill you, If I see you again,” said another of the children, a five-year-old boy.
Another one-and-a-half year old girl has not left her mother’s arms since the incident. She has suffered injuries too.
The family alleged that none of the neighbours came to its help.
“I was begging my neighbours to help; the goons were assaulting my children but they only heard my screams and did nothing. We had to pay a cost of being Muslims and living in the area,” said Sameena, Sajid’s wife, adding that the family believes it is no longer safe and will sell the house and move to an area where more Muslims live.
Seven members of the family rushed to the second floor and were shouting for help from the terrace. “I was holding my mobile phone in hand when one of the goons shouted ‘Get hold of that girl; she is recording our video and we will be identified.’ I got the idea from there and recorded videos after that. I recorded three videos of 2:10 seconds, 1:03 seconds and 1:17 seconds. Four of the men came to the second floor and tried to break open the iron gate but could not succeed and fled from the spot as they knew I had called the police control room,” said Danishta Siddique, one of the people in the house when it was attacked.
A few residents of the urban village met Sohna MLA Tej Pal Tanwar on Saturday and requested him to meet with the family members and to ask them to reach a compromise with the people who attacked the household.
“I have asked the families to help the police in investigation and that the boys should surrender to the police. I will not ask anyone to compromise and want a fair and speedy investigation in the case,” Tanwar said. The police say they have identified six more men and will arrest them soon.
Sajid hails from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh and has been living in the house for the past three years with his wife and six children. He runs a gas-stove repair shop and is also a partner in a furniture shop in Badshahpur. The others who were attacked were members of his extended family who were visiting.
“There are only two Muslim families in the area and no one has ever targeted our community, but for the first time we were abused and asked to vacate the house. They were shouting ‘This is not your place’ and ‘Go to Pakistan,’” said Sameena, who also suffered injuries while resisting the attack.
Garg said his men were constantly in touch with the family. “I would like to make an appeal to the people living in that area to live peacefully and maintain harmony,” the officer said.