The horror this Eid: when the discrimination my Muslim husband suffers turned violent

Eid Mubarak!

It’s a normal delightful wish for all Muslims. To me it connotes horror and fear; a reverberation of life threatening anecdotes.

Sasmita AKhtar

Sasmita Akhtar

I am Sasmita Sarangi Akhtar married to Shamim Akhtar since 18 years. Shamim is an (IAS/Allied) DANICS officer. We were classmates in Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1992, married with the blessings of both our parents and dared to dream of a world where different ideologies can co-exist. We are blessed with two children.Our daughter is named Nishka and son is called Anwesh Shivam and thus flourished the utopian ideology within the walls of our home!

Extreme professional and personal discrimination has been a part of our life since Shamim joined the service.The hatred crossed its threshold on the 31st of December 2006, on the eve of Eid, when police landed at our residence and thrashed all present for no reason.The more painful aspect was the apathy of most neighbours. I was in the seventh month of pregnancy, expecting Anwesh. The intense trauma I was abjected to as a fall out of this brutality left its mark on my son. Doctors concluded that he is autistic because of the socio-psychological conditions inflicted during my pregnancy.

Eight years later, 18th of July 2015, again on Eid,a lady metropolitan magistrate, our neighbour stood outside our house with a mob, shouting slogans, instigating communal violence. Around 11.30 in the night with roughly fifteen odd people she yelled out endlessly apparently because she had an issue regarding the parking of her visitor’s vehicle.Despite their instigation we never stepped out of our house. She called the police. A PCR immediately arrived, we were still holed up in the house, the communal rantings continued unabated, but the police was more interested in our CCTV footage.

On the 19th of July 2015, Shamim filed a complaint of communal violence in the Civil Lines Police Station. The Duty Officer wasn’t even willing to receive it. Shamim sent an intimation regarding this to the concerned DCP (North), Mr. Madhur Verma, via SMS on his mobile  but no response. Shamim then spoke to the Duty Officer over phone. The latter said he would act only on the instruction of the SHO. Irritated when Shamim asked, “Will you shoot me if the SHO says so?”; within a second came the reply, “Of course, I will”. This conversation was immediately forwarded to the DCP in the form of a voice recording via What’s app. You guessed it! No response from Mr. Madhur Verma yet again.But we kept on pursuing till finally the Duty Officer accepted the complaint at 5.00pm.

A month elapsed and no action was taken. Tired of pleading all and sundry Shamim filed a RTI, the reply of which is a mockery of the law of the nation! On the 3rd of September 2015 Shamim again appealed to the DCP but well aware of the senior police officer’s apathy he also filed appeals to the supreme authorities of the country.

On 8th of September the lady judge again called the police for reasons best known to her and this time not one but several PCRs with a plethora of policemen landed at our doorstep. Shamim again requested them to initiate a dialogue with a senior officer and fell silent while I intervened to question their intention. They had no explanation whatsoever. I caught one policeman pointing at our CCTV and warning the others to “behave”.

9th of September 2015, a date added to our list of painful episodes( though in this case pain is a very insignificant word); a posse of policemen accompanied by lady police and para military with semi-automatic rifles landed at our doorstep at 11.30 am. Without a search or arrest warrant they barged into our house and insisted on arresting us.

We live in a ridge area where monkey menace is common. Most of the residents in this campus have some noise making pistol or air gun to chase away monkeys when they decide to have a ‘cat-fight’ in one’s premises. The policemen refused to budge without our air gun. They ransacked the house and left with us.

We were illegally detained at the Civil Lines Police Station till 7.30 pm. Confirmed that we couldn’t approach any court of law at that hour police officially announced the arrest. The police cleverly reversed Shamim’s complaint against the lady metropolitan magistrate and charged him with instigation of communal violence. Despite him being a senior officer and despite the alleged charges being bail able he was sent to judicial custody even without a hearing!

Ironically, Shamim had served as a Superintendent in the same jail number 1 of Tihar. Coincidentally, he happens to be the only Muslim Superintendent, in independent India, in that roll of honour.

Sad the fourth pillar of democracy, the mainstream media, is so immersed in its routine to earn a livelihood and enhance its TRPs, it continued reporting the lady’s side of the story without even trying to find out Shamim’s version; without even bothering to mention his achievements in professional life or his contribution as an author and photographer;( the writer and photographer of one of the best books on Holy Kailasa & Manasarovar), irrespective of all outstanding ACRs and his ranking as a leading photographer of India, the last one doing old school photography and perhaps the only one shooting in absolute Infra-red!

Though the supreme authorities have taken a note of the situation and we hope that justice will prevail. But it is said that justice delayed is justice denied, if so then we are living in a state of complete denial. Our government colony infested with tainted officers are holding furtive meetings regularly and accusing that we are not “worthy” of living in this campus.

This is only a factual narration without intending to bother you with the gruesome details. My humble request to you all is, if and when such an event takes place in your neighbourhood please do not be a mute spectator. Do take a stand so that all of us can co-exist peacefully in a just nation.