By Samiullah Khan
On 7th March I was travelling by Jalandhar Express. The compartment was packed to the limit. All the passengers, whether standing, sitting or hanging, looked tired and exhausted after the hard day’s jobs.
We had reached, perhaps, somewhere near Ghaziabad when the chatting buzz in the compartment suddenly changed into noise. It resonated with the scenes of Rohit Sardana and Arnab Goswami’s TV shows. The topic of the discussion revolved around the current situation in our country, Pakistan’s terrorism and Prime Minister and his surgical strikes. Almost every passenger was participating and contributing in this cacophony. The passengers, it seemed, thought it to be the most appropriate occasion and method of paying tribute to the jawans killed by terrorists in Pulwama.
Then the discussion changed to ‘vikas’ [development] and India under the leadership of Modi ji. Modi ji’s achievements were being enumerated and in between swear words were being used for the families of Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal. These commentators, who had had been trained through Rohit Sardana and Aranab Goswami TV shows, opined in their raised tones that the ones who are in pain seeing Modi ji in power are the Pakistanis and the Jihadis. They said that [Indian] ‘Muslims are equally troubled at BJP being in power because they want to oust Rama and bring in Allah [sic]. They are being helped by Pakistani jihadis and funds are being collected all over the country to stop the Rath [chariot] of Rama.’
Then someone said in a loud voice: ‘These mother f… Muslims separated and created a country for themselves. What the hell are they now doing here? They are not letting us live in peace. A countrywide campaign should start against these Jihadi mullas.’ Then someone caught sight of me. ‘Lo and behold! A Pakistani is sitting right here.’ He screamed. I became nervous. I looked at him and pretended to focus on the book I was reading. But then someone shouted: ‘Kill the Pakistanis, throw the jihadis out of the train.’ As some of them started coming towards me, I thought my time had come. I thought one more name is going to be added in the list of those who had been killed in the incidents of lynchings [since Modi- Yogi came to power].
‘Why die without giving a fight?’ I said to myself and looked around hoping to get hold of something I could use as a weapon. In the meanwhile, screams of foul abuses, slogans and insults started rising. As some of them approached me, a tall man with strong built came and stood between us. He warned them to keep away from me and talk in a nice way if they so wished.
I then saw a man whispering into the ear of one of the intended assailants. The blood-thirsty-wolf and four to five of his intended accomplices, who had boarded along with him in our compartment from Ghaziabad, and had contaminated the environment to such a level that others were ready to join them in taking the life of a Muslim, got off after one or two stops. God knows why and from where they had entered into our compartment. Although they had gone, toxic buzz still continued. And I took a sigh of relief and felt lucky to be safe and alive.
The lessons I draw from this experience is that in the prevailing Islamohobic atmosphere, everyone with the looks and [Muslim] appearance line mine, must avoid travelling on his own; more so when travelling between Delhi, UP and Haryana. When necessary don’t travel in general and sleeper compartments.
I do not want to say much about the impact of this incident on my thinking and my subconscious. And what can I say when our elders are trying to convince us that India is the safest country for Muslims in the world?
Let it be said that luck does not favour you all the time. The crowd of lynchers and Hindutva butchers have tasted your blood. I survived this incident but if the present situation does not get better, next time I, or someone else like me, will not be so lucky. Allah SWT has laid a clear principle: ‘Verily Allah does not change a people’s condition unless they change their inner selves.’ (Qur’an, Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:11)
Samiullah Khan is a young Islamic scholar and social activist.