Friday, May 14, 2010

“Beta tum apna kaam jaari karna, Darna mat, Mera Shahid bhi nahi dara beta.”

No sight would have been as brutal for a mother than to see her son lying in a pool of blood , taking his last few breaths. The mother crying for help to the bystanders and trying to pour the last few drops of water in his mouth, that which he spills out as the soul is on the verge of leaving the body. The men and women who have gathered stare at the blood soaked body of the man, the same man, Shahid Azmi who was the soul of their colony, Mumbais taximen colony, home to predominantly muslim families. The mother's cry for help does not yield any response, those gathered just stand still in a state of inertia, perhaps again waiting for divine intervention than themselves taking the first step.

These are the people, for whom Shahid Azmi, my dear friend struggled night and day to get them justice. The same men who the next day in his funeral procession said loud “Shaheed Ka janaaza hai, shaan se niklega”.

The same society which was seething with anger a week before seems to have reconciled itself to the justice given to Shahid Azmi. Justice in the form of three hit men of the Bharat Nepali gang being arrested. The case is almost shut. No questions asked. We are asked to be content that the investigation was done in the most speedy way possible. Within three days the police was able to nab the killers who were wanted in earlier cases. Hit men who were contract killers and had been evading the police in various other cases suddenly are caught by the police within three days of committing the crime. And the surprise does not end here.

The killers after shooting Shahid do not leave the city as per practice but stay back in the city in fact in the very area as the shootout took place. And our Mumbai Police’s efficiency does not stop here. It is so confident that it has arrested the right people that it does not even bother to call the main witness in the case ‘Inder’ to identify those arrested.

But where does this investigation which has been a disgusting eye wash answer the questions? Who was the mind behind killing Shahid Azmi. What proof does the police have to say that this act was the mastermind of Bharat Nepali beyond the confessions of the three arrested?

But, who is going to ask these questions? The media has been busy in publishing what is being selectively fed to them. In fact after reading write ups written by me and my colleagues in Tehelka on the case and Shahid Azmi, a supposedly ‘secular’ journalist friend sent me an SMS “Why is Tehelka hell bent on proving Shahid Azmi to be a hero?"

I did not answer for I need not.

For I did not need to prove Shahid a hero. For me he became a hero when he called me late in the night on the eve of Eid. I had thought it must have been to wish me. In a very upset tone he said “ Rana , you should do something on the condition of women convicts in jail” . He gave the example of a lady convict in the train blast case who was not even given enough cloth to cover herself to offer namaz.

An hour later I got an SMS from him “ Eid ul Adha is the Eid of Sacrifice and commitment to Allahs orders and to the cause of his helpers . Let us dedicate this Eid to those bravehearts who are fighting injustice and repression. I wish you Eid Mubarak with all my revolutionary fervor”.

Today as I sit back and read the message again and again, I just do not know how to stop my tears from flowing. As I write this, I am not doing it as a piece of journalistic writing but as a means of communicating to all those who he fought for to please wake up from this state of inertia. Please wake up at least now. Shahid saw perhaps the worst that any individual could see in his life but that did not deter him. What is deterring you?. Speak up. Do not just cry hoarse while sitting in your drawing room sipping chai that Shahids investigation was shoddy and this is what happens to Muslims . Agitate, Demand a judicial probe , protest, write , take that one little step and it will make a difference.

I remember one of my last conversation with Shahid in the beginning of this month at a café close to Sessions court where he practiced “Rana , if just one individual from every family takes that one little step, we wont need any other help. And I am sure it will happen” he said as if having a premonition of what was to happen to him. Let Shahid's work not go in vain. Let not the tears of Shahid's mother go in vain. As I left Shahids room after having sat with his mother a day after the funeral, she took my hands and whispered “Beta tum apna kaam jaari karna, Darna mat, Mera Shahid bhi nahi dara beta.” (Son, Keep on doing your job. Fear none. My son Shahid was never afraid of anyone, son) These words were not just for me . I was the medium. You, my brethren were the means.

From veteran journalist Rana Ayub's post in his blog.
To read the full article click here.

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