How long can a party rule on the blood of its victims, says wife of lynching victim Mariyam Khatoon

Mariyam Khatoon, whose husband was thrashed to death by an unruly mob of cow-vigilantes at marketplace in Ramgarh, Jharkhand in 2017, states that even the Hindus in the area will not vote for the BJP

Mariyam Khatoon (NH Photo)
Mariyam Khatoon (NH Photo)

Ashlin Mathew

“Not even the Hindus in this area will vote for BJP. We have always lived in harmony and even after the incident, they have always come forward to help us. How long can a party talk about hate and win, how long can it rule on the blood of its victims?” asks Mariyam Khatoon, the wife of Alimuddin Ansari who was dragged out of his cab and thrashed to death by an unruly mob of cow-vigilantes at marketplace in Ramgarh, Jharkhand in 2017.

The killing has been etched into the psyche of those in the area. Even on a midsummer afternoon, the streets that take you to her house, which they got through Indira Awaas Yojana, lie bereft of people. Doors of all the homes remain locked and closed to outsiders; not a single child can be seen outside. It lies in contrast to the hullabaloo just 300 metres away on the main road.

“No one from the BJP has come to this area. How will they show their face? The Congress candidate Gopal Sahu came to this area a couple of days ago and his son came to our house yesterday (April 26, 2019). But, other than that there hasn’t been much electioneering here. There doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm from the Congress. I wonder what message they want to send,” explains Mariyam.

Mariyam’s house comes under Hazaribagh constituency, which will go to elections on May 5. Yashwant Sinha’s son Jayant Sinha, who had garlanded the murderers of Alimuddin Ansari is standing against Gopal Sahu of the Congress. The election is expected to be a walkover for BJP, unless people come together.

The second anniversary of Ansari’s death, which falls on June 29, is just around the corner. Of the 12 who were named in the FIR, only the main accused Deepak Mishra is in jail. All the others are roaming free. The case of a juvenile who was named in the FIR is being tried under the juvenile board. Even the BJP leader Nitiyanand Mahato, who was named in the case and was been awarded a life sentence by the district court, is out on bail.

Street outside Mariyam Khatoon’s home
Street outside Mariyam Khatoon’s home

“The moment my children step out I am worried. My younger son has gone to Ramgarh for his computer class. Until he returns, I am worried. If people could attack my husband in the morning, then anything can happen at anytime. Even my daughter has stepped out; that has me worried on another level,” remarks Mariyam.

Mariyam’s life hasn’t been easy since then. Just four months ago her 23-year-old Shahzad Ansari, who was poised to get a government job, dropped dead after a shooting pain in his head. He was the hope of the family. She has two more sons and three daughters, of which one daughter is married and resides in Malda, West Bengal.

Of the two daughters, one dropped out of school after Class X due to financial constraints. The youngest daughter, who is in Class IX, still goes to school. One of her sons is studying in a madrassa and Shahbaj, the younger of the sons, is in Class IX. He has got a scholarship through Aman Biradri from Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to complete his studies. In the hope of getting a government job while he is still a student, he has enrolled himself for a computer course.

The family has no permanent income. They survive on the goodwill of neighbours, friends and family. “I have attempted to go to work. But, my health doesn’t permit it. I have a constant pain in my head and have seen several doctors but to no avail. Now I have opted for a herbal medicine, which is giving me some relief,” explains Mariyam.

The family, with the help of Human Rights Law Network, has currently moved the Supreme Court challenging the Jharkhand High Court's decision to grant the convicts bail.

“We are hoping for justice. I can only hope for it from the courts. How else can we take it forward? That is the only recourse for the poor,” maintains Mariyam.

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