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“They beat us and you kept quiet, they will beat you too” – Asia Begum assaulted in Yogi’s UP

Writeup – SAQR

These were the words of a traumatic survivor, Asiya Begum whose family was assaulted while on board a train in Yogi Adiyanath’s Uttar Pradesh. The incident happened barely a couple of weeks after Junaid Khan, another ‘MUSLIM’ was lynched to death in a train.

Two years ago, the family had lost a son and had another paralyzed. This was the first time since the incident that they had gone out. Soon after boarding the train, 3 to 4 young teenagers attacked the PARALYZED boy, snatched his mobile and started beating him.

As Asiya Begum recalls, what she thought to be a train robbery turned into a full-fledged COMMUNAL attack after men were called for reinforcements. There were THREE rounds of attacks, the first by the small group, then again by a larger group armed with knives, and then by the mob that had increased to 40.

“My son does not look paralyzed when he is sitting but he is, and first they must have thought they need to beat him to rob us, as the rest of us were elderly or women. We women got up, and knowing the days are very bad, started pleading with them to let him go. Don’t hit him beta, please understand, was the tone and tenor I used. Then they turned on me, snatched my jewelry and started assaulting me. At this the men intervened, and with the help of others who were in the compartment and had been at the same wedding, got them out, and locked the doors,” she recalls amidst tears, her voice quivering with fear.

The youth started pelting stones at their compartment, broke the emergency window, a couple of them crawled in, opened the doors and they came back in to continue the assault. By now their numbers had increased. “They had called some people who came on motorcycles. They attacked us with knives, iron rods, they started kicking and beating us. My husband is a heart patient, his bones are broken, he has internal injuries now. The men fell unconscious, we started crying, please don’t hit them anymore, they are dying but they didn’t listen”. Again, other passengers got them out somehow.

They got back in. By this time the mob had increased to 40 men. They started GROPING the women at this stage. Asiya Begum’s young daughter and other women had been taken out by the other passengers, they hid in the toilets and somehow escaped. Her details are now a little confused as per the sequence of events, as clearly the trauma has taken over her memory, but she cannot forget the assault, the beating, the kicking, the terror.

The train had moved again, and they BEGGED other passengers not to de-board without asking their villagers to send persons to help. One passenger did that, and some of the villagers she says, came and the men then ran away.

Throughout the entirety, ‘NO HELP’ came from the Railway Protection Force. As a matter of fact, the mob threatened to kill the guard and he ran away. No forces arrived to help them. The loco pilot who was also a woman was too intimidated to interfere.

The official narrative is that of a robbery, but Asiya Begum claims otherwise. She said that the family stood by when they were being beaten and robbed. And only when they MOLESTED the women, did others stood up. This led to religious slurs being hurled and what can only be termed as communal followed.

“Not a single responsible person has come to us, to stand by us, to help us. We are so scared, the police is asking us questions we have no answers to. Those men who attacked us are still free, we fear another attack, we have nothing left, I just don’t know what we will do,” she cries

“I have already lost my son in a road accident. He died two years back, but till date the accused (driver) has not been arrested. Police must arrest the men who molested me, my daughters and sisters, and assaulted other members of our family.”

The attack is just another incident that has been brushed aside. In spite of the communal nature being evident, the two accused, believed to be in their twenties, have been booked under IPC’s sections 395 (punishment for dacoity) and 412 (dishonestly receiving property stolen in the commission of a dacoity).

“It should happen to no one, BUT IT WILL, because just as they beat us and you kept quiet, they will beat you too. Why don’t people realize that? Why? People have left us alone, but they are alone too. Don’t they know that? I wish now they HAD KILLED us, as no one cares, no one is there for people like us who have nothing to begin with, and now even that little has gone”, a BROKEN Asiya Begum says.

The incident comes days after the #notinmyname protests, condemning the mob lynching episodes that have gripped India since the Modi led government came in to power in 2014. There have been NO Prime-time debates, NO widespread condemnation and NOBODY has consoled/apologized for the shameful act that happened. There was NO discussion over how quickly people had mobilized to attack and possibly kill an unknown family, just because they had a different set of beliefs.

All this happens parallel to huge conventions being held, plans being made and deadlines are being set on how this nation could be turned into a HINDU RASHTRA. Every 1 out of 3 votes to be cast in the coming Presidential elections would be by a CRIMINAL accused. The fringe extremism has now entered the mainstream and it leads us to many questions.

Is this sort of lynching part and parcel of the world’s largest democracy? Is molesting normal? Is killing people who differ from your view normal? Will minorities be given a second-class citizen status? Is this the legacy that Indians want their children to follow?

Author: SAQR, is a 20 year old, social activist and student of National Institute of Technology (NITW)