Field Notes: Meeting A Hate Crime Survivor 


(Uttar Pradesh): In late February, when a mild sun had started making its presence felt across western Uttar Pradesh, I found Samiuddin sitting in his usual spot—a wooden charpoy outside the door of his home in Hapur’s Madhapur village.

It had been more than three years since my last visit here, but nothing had really changed visibly. The rickety grey door to his home, the courtyard, with cattle-feed scattered across the mud floor, was exactly as I remembered.

I was travelling across the state revisiting hate crimes I had covered in 2018. Beyond catching up with the legal status of these crimes and whether social relations had changed, I was eager to know the personal journeys of the victims, in the time since the hate crime had occurred.

 Hapur was my last destination on this journey. I had already met victims, their families, their lawyers and even the accused at five hate crime spots.

 Samiuddin, with his halting, limping walk, smiled a familiar smile when he saw me. He doesn’t carry a phone, so my visit was unexpected.

I told him how the victims and families I had met were struggling with slow, seemingly unending trials and the lack of justice. I told him how all this was driving many of them to explore out-of-court compromises with their attackers.

 Samiuddin knew what I meant.

 Forty-four months ago, he had been brutally assaulted in the neighbouring Bajhera Khurd village by a mob of Hindu villagers who lynched another Muslim cattle trader Mohammad Qasim.

 Since then, he had seen 142 hearings in his case, with no sight of justice, and while the case dragged on, he had received visitors—village elders, Hindus from Bajhera Khurd and even politicians—asking him to agree for a faisla—a compromise.

I asked him what he had thought. “Kabhi nahi,” he said. (Never.)

Because the hate crime wasn’t in the past. It lived on, through viral videos of his assault.

“My mother saw the videos,” he said, describing how the mob, consisting mostly of young men and even school-going boys, abused him while pulling his blood-stained white beard.

“She heard how they were abusing me in her name, calling her the choicest of words,” he said.

“She was heartbroken by what she saw and she never really recovered from that sight,” Samiuddin told me, when I went to his house in Madhapur village, not far from where the incident occurred.

 Last year, Samiuddin’s mother died.

Woh saara kuch dekhkar aur sunkar gayi, he told me. (She took all the sights and sounds of that incident to her grave.)

Read the series below:

Part One

Part Two

And A Short Video:

(Kunal Purohit is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

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