“Naam kya?- Ashfaq”…. And then, five bullets fired on the chest

ISRAR AHMED, Twocircles.net

“Naam kya?” (What is your name?), asked the rioters.

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“Ashfaq”…..bullets screeching at the street full of smashed glasses, broken furniture, and piling mess of plastic, wood, paper as men with guns ran across doors killing people identified Muslims by their names.

The death toll in northeast Delhi violence went up to 42 on Thursday, with the Health Department confirming 4 more deaths on Friday. As no record of fresh eruptions of rioting has been reported in the last three days, heart wrenching stories from the affected areas are being uncovered amid the uneasy calm.

Reports suggest the maximum number of deaths is around 30 among whom are sole breadwinners of their families, newlyweds, and new parents. While mothers have lost young sons, little children will never see their fathers again. Where husbands have lost their wives, newlyweds have lost their husbands to the unprecedented violence. One such story is of the wife of Ashfaq Hussain, married just eleven days back.

22-years-old Ashfaq Hussain from Mustafabad died a merciless death at the hand of rioters. Ashfaq was one of those who had gone to work that day when news came from the hospital that he had been shot. No one knew he would never return from hospital alive.

 “Uske haathon ki mehndi ka rang nahi chhootha tha abhi,” (The colour of henna on her hands has not faded yet), said one of the relatives of Ashfaq, explaining how his wife is in shock and trauma of her husband’s death. His relatives informed Ashfaq had got married just this month, on February 14. They believe he had received five bullets on his chest.

Ashfaq’s house in the northeast assembly constituency is steeped in deafening silence as his family is still in disbelief that the young and lively Ashfaq is no more. “Kitni takleef ka saamna karke hum apne bachchon ko paal poskar bada karte hain aur ek hi jhatke mein aaker usay wo maar daalte hain” (With unimaginable labour and pains we raise our little children and in just one moment, they took him away from all of us), said Hajra, Ashfaq’s aunt. She further said that Ashfaq was just standing at the street with his friends when the rioters came and fired shots. She added that her whole family is in mourning and it is unthinkable for her how one human has absolutely no mercy for another.

“Aap hi bataiye uski 11 dinon ki biwi kya karegi ab? Kahaan jaegi wo? Kiase jiyegi wo?” (You only say how will Ashfaq’s wife who was married only 11 days ago will live? Where will she go? How will she live?) said Hajra, sobbing. Mudassir, Ashfaq’s brother ran to the hospital to collect his body. He explained what followed during the violence on February 22.

“Brijpuri puliya par pohonchte hi Ashfaq Bhai aur unke doston ko chaaron taraf se gher liya” (Just when Ashfaq reached Brijpuri Puliya with his friends, he was surrounded by men from all sides), said Mudassir. He narrated how Ashfaq’s friends, seeing the armed men ran away leaving him alone. The mob of unruly men, in masks, asked him his name and the instant Ashfaq replied, became his final moments. He wasn’t just shot, but also hit with weapons several times before he lost consciousness, said Mudassir.

According to Mudassir, Ashfaq’s friends had been witnessing all that was happening from a distance but they were themselves helpless and could do nothing to save him. After the rioters were done nearly beating him to death, his friends tried to take him to GTB Hospital but it was difficult for them to reach as roads were immediately blocked. Adding to the obstacles, the way to GTB was closed and Ashfaq was taken to a nearby hospital. After battling for life for two hours, Ashfaq lost and breathed his last.

While his family is in mourning, Mudassir, along with a group of friends, has decided to fight for justice for Ashfaq. He has requested for the CCTV footage from the day to identify the rioter who shot the bullets at Ashfaq so that he can be put behind bars. Even though the family does not trust Delhi Police anymore, their hope remains alive.