In February this year, Junaid had asked his relative, Nasir, if he wished to accompany him to another village, to meet marriage suitors for his two nieces. Nasir agreed, and the two borrowed a bolero car from someone they knew, and began their journey. They hadn’t reached too far from their village Ghatmeeka in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur, when their car was intercepted and the two were kidnapped and assaulted, allegedly by members of the Bajrang Dal. Their car was then set on fire, with them inside it. Now, nine months later, Junaid’s two nieces are getting married in November. The preparation for the wedding has been bitter-sweet, constantly serving as a reminder of Junaid and Nasir’s murder. In remembrance, and as a mark of respect, the wedding invitation card mentions Junaid and Nasir’s name.
While both families have tried to move on with their lives since the horrific incident, Junaid and Nasir’s murder hasn’t just left an indelible imprint on their lives, but also those of everyone around them.
The villagers say they continue to fear for their lives, worried that they could meet the same fate as Junaid and Nasir if they tread too far from familiarity. As precaution, they avoid taking long journeys away from their village, and certainly not any that will take them to “the BJP-ruled state of Haryana”, they say. But with Rajasthan elections round the corner, the chances of BJP coming to power are seen as high given the revolving door trend that the state has traditionally followed. The Quint visited Junaid and Nasir’s village Ghatmeeka ahead of the elections.
Junaid's Daughter Is Mostly Confined To Bed Since The Murder, Says Family
After Junaid’s murder, his wife Sajida had her three sons admitted into a madrasa (religious school). Her primary concern at the moment is her eldest daughter, 12-year-old Parvana, who has remained unwell for the last nine months.
“She couldn’t take it...she just fell sick, and has been confined to the bed since then. She barely talks or responds to us,” says Sajida.
Sajida has had to take care of her ailing daughter, her three sons, and her youngest 2-year-old too, all by herself. “My sister has had the entire home’s responsibility fall on her shoulders since Junaid’s death. Earlier, he used to handle everything and now she has to take care of things. Her own health has taken a toll in this process,” says Waris, Sajida’s brother.
Meanwhile at Nasir’s residence, his two children, 8-year-old Ansum and 5-year-old Anvesh, are completely aware of what transpired nine months ago with their father.
“The children know every detail. So much media had showed up that day...they overheard things. Moreover, when Nasir didn’t return for so many days, they understood everything,” says Warisha, Nasir’s sister-in-law. The extended relatives are worried about how this could impact the psyche of the children.
Warisha says that Nasir’s wife Farmina mostly keeps unwell since his demise, and has to frequently visit the doctor.
The double murder had raised many questions over the law-and-order situation in Congress-ruled Rajasthan. Rajasthan police had, in its chargesheet, accused Haryana police of turning away “the wounded duo” of Junaid and Nasir, when the Bajrang Dal members had brought them over after allegedly assaulting them.
Over the course of the last nine months, four people have been arrested in connection with the case, including notorious Bajrang Dal member, Monu Manesar. The cow vigilante was seen posting videos ahead of the riots that took place in Nuh and other parts of Haryana in August, six months after Junaid and Nasir’s murder. This, despite the fact that Monu was named as a suspect in the Junaid-Nasir chargesheet, filed by the Rajasthan police.
In September, Monu was arrested by the Haryana police in connection with a social media post, charged under multiple sections including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups). He was then handed over to the Rajasthan police which arrested him in relation to the Junaid-Nasir case.
“Rajasthan government and the CM supported us. They were able to get Monu arrested, despite him having such powerful connections, that is a big deal for us,” says Hamid, Nasir’s brother.
Monu was previously part of Haryana government’s cow protection task force, and pictures of him with top BJP politicians have also surfaced. After the Junaid-Nasir murder, multiple mahapanchayats were organised by right-wing bodies, hailing and supporting Monu.
The Difference In Compensation
At the time of the murder, amid the heightened media attention, CM Ashok Gehlot had met with the families of both the men and promised them compensation.
“CM Gehlot had met us and got a fixed deposit of Rs 5 lakh made for both Junaid and Nasir’s eldest child. But we can only access that money when the eldest turns 18. How will we manage till then? It’s very difficult,” says Sajida, Junaid’s wife.
Congress MLA from Kaman constituency, Zahida Khan, had also made promises to the families. “She had promised Rs. 20.5 lakh each. We have received Rs 5 Lakh of that, but Rs 15.5 lakh is still pending,” says Hamid. “We and other villagers have gone to meet her several times since then. She would say 'I will give you the money or how will I ask you for votes?' Now elections are here, but she hasn't given the money yet,” he says.
AIMIM leader and MP Asaduddin Owaisi had pointed out, in his speeches, that while slain Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal’s family received a compensation of Rs 50 Lakh as well as government jobs for his sons, the same wasn’t promised to Junaid and Nasir’s families. On 28 June 2022, Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Rajasthan’s Udaipur, was hacked to death, allegedly by two men, Riaz Akhtari and Ghaus Mohammad, with a cleaver at his shop. In a video that Riaz Akhtari and Ghaus Mohammad broadcast on social media after Kanhaiya Lal was killed, they took responsibility of the murder and said that they attacked him for allegedly sharing a post in support of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma's controversial remarks against the Prophet.
Responding to this difference in compensation in both cases, Hamid says he isn’t bothered by that.
“These things don’t matter to us. There is no communal animosity in our village. This was all done by outsiders. So we don’t care about how much compensation is given to Kanhaiya Lal’s family...We are just glad that Monu has been arrested,” says Hamid.
'We Used To Be Killed Earlier And We Continue To Be Killed Now'
At the chowk, or central circle in the village, which comprises of multiple shops, there is a deafening silence at Junaid and Nasir’s mention. “They used to sit right here...spend most of their time here,” says one shopkeeper.
“Since that incident, everyone is constantly worried and scared, that what if this ends up happening with them, there is no peace here,” says Mubarak, a villager.
Mubarak also says that no politician cares to venture into their village. “No politicians come here. They might come to ask for votes, but even that hasn't so far.”
Many are also hesitant to step outside of the village, and avoid going to Haryana, a bordering state.
“BJP is in power in Haryana, so don’t go there...if BJP comes to power in Rajasthan now, it will be a matter of concern for us,” says Haider, another villager.
Everyone in the village, including the children, are well-aware of what had happened in the Junaid-Nasir murder case. 11-year-old Parvez says that he is “definitely scared” since the incident, but adds that not much has changed in his everyday life. “We used to be killed earlier, and we are still being killed,” he says.