In a crowded, dark room in Baraut, a small town in eastern Uttar Pradesh, a group of women, old and young, has been crying for the last three days. In the month of Ramzan, Shamim Parveen is finding it difficult to break her fast. Every evening, women from the neighbourhood along with her three sobbing daughters force a morsel into her mouth and get back to tears. Last Friday, she spoke to her 21-year-old son Mazhar Naeem. Two days later, she heard that he was killed 180 km from home, at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) where he was a second-year B Sc student.
Father Naeem Ahmad Khan, a high-school teacher in neighbouring Parikshitgarh, says he didn’t send his son to the university to “become a martyr.” Mazhar, he says, was his only hope to get out of his financial sufferings, with an eldest spastic son Athar Zafeer who can barely walk and the youngest, Azhar Tariq, just 11-year-old. “I was busy doing my job and thought sending my son to AMU would make him a successful man who would share my responsibilities. With his death, I have gone back 20 years in my life,” he says, holding back tears.
Naeem is not sure if his wife would have the heart to send Azhar away, who qualified for admission to government-run Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya. “If my most gentle son could be so ruthlessly killed, how can I have any hope left?” he says.
Back in Aligarh, even the university administration seconds Naeem’s statement. “He was a good student. We fail to understand why he was killed,” Vice-Chancellor P K Abdul Azis says. Mazhar’s post-mortem report says he was beaten up before being hit on his head, either by a stone or an iron rod.
While the hostels, often described by the administration as the “root cause of the problem”, have been vacated, police say around 150 food stalls between Tasveer Mahal and Shamshad Market on the university campus could be part of the problem. “The university is so porous that anyone can come inside. So far, the police hadn’t been asked by the university administration to assist in maintaining law and order. With this case, however, things have changed,” SSP Raghubir Lal, who is investigating Sunday’s murder with the help of Special Task Force, says.
The police have, meanwhile, detained Mohsin, Mazhar’s family friend who studied at the university, for interrogation. Mazhar was killed near Café de Phoos, a hundred-year-old food joint for students just a furlong away from the hockey ground on campus on Sunday evening that is covered by heavy bushes breaking into one of the peripheral roads on one side.
Four months ago, Kausher Salik Mazhar, a B Tech student at the university from Bihar, and Mohammad Sabir Ali from Uttar Pradesh, were also shot dead near an eating joint on the campus, a stone’s throw away from their hostels, within a fortnight. While the police have booked four students of the university for Kausher’s murder_three are in Aligarh jail, one absconding_Ali’s file has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
In the first two cases, the victims were caught in the crossfire between two rival student groups. Prof Javed Akhtar, dean of faculty of management, who submitted an inquiry report on incidents of violence on campus to the varsity administration, says the students were found to be indulging in “criminal activities” along with “outsiders and old students” lodged in hostels.
SSP Lal insists the police is “very close” to solving the Mazhar murder, but the most intriguing case he has ever dealt with is the alleged rape on the campus just a week ago. “This was the first rape case where we could trace no victim, but there was a massive demonstration by girl students at the university. For investigation, though, there has to be a victim on whom medical tests can be carried out to confirm the crime,” he says. Later, under pressure from the girls, Proctor’s office could only lodge an FIR for alleged molestation of girls. (Courtesy; Indian Express, September 20, 2007)
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