I Feared a Lynching on Jalandhar Express, Until a Guy Stepped In
“Lo and behold! A Pakistani is sitting right here,” he screamed. I became nervous.
On 7 March, I was travelling from New Delhi to Deoband in Uttar Pradesh via Jalandhar Express. The compartment was packed to the limit. All the passengers, whether standing, sitting or hanging, looked tired and exhausted after a hard day’s job.
Somewhere near Ghaziabad, the chatty buzz in the compartment suddenly changed into noise. It resonated with the scenes of loud primetime TV shows.
The topic of discussion revolved around the current situation in our country, Pakistan’s terrorism, and the Prime Minister and his surgical strikes. Almost every passenger was participating and contributing in this cacophony. The passengers, it seemed, thought it to be the most appropriate occasion and method of paying tribute to the jawans killed by terrorists in Pulwama.
Then the discussion changed to ‘vikas’ (development) and India under the leadership of Modi ji. Our PM’s achievements were being enumerated and in between, other politicians of the Opposition were being bad-mouthed.
These commentators trained through some news anchors on TV, opined in their raised tones that the ones who are in pain seeing Modi ji in power are the ‘Pakistanis’ and the ‘Jihadis’. They said that (Indian) ‘Muslims are equally troubled at the BJP being in power because they want to oust Rama and bring in Allah. They are being helped by Pakistani jihadis and funds are being collected all over the country to stop the Rath (chariot) of Rama.’
Then someone said in a loud voice, ‘These Muslims separated and created a country for themselves. What the hell are they doing here now? They are not letting us live in peace. A countrywide campaign should start against these Jihadi mullas.’ Then someone caught sight of me.
“Lo and behold! A Pakistani is sitting right here,” he screamed. I became nervous. I looked at him and pretended to focus on the book I was reading. But then someone shouted, “Kill the Pakistanis, throw the jihadis out of the train.”
As some of them started coming towards me, I thought my time had come. I thought one more name is going to be added in the list of those who had been killed in the incidents of lynchings in the last five years.
‘Why die without giving a fight?’ I asked myself and looked around hoping to get hold of something I could use as a weapon. In the meantime, screams of foul abuses, slogans and insults started rising. As some of them approached me, a tall man with a strong build came and stood between us. He warned them to keep away from me and talk in a nice way if they so wished.
I then saw a man whispering into the ear of one of the intended assailants. The blood-thirsty wolf and four to five of his intended accomplices, who had boarded along with him in our compartment from Ghaziabad, and had contaminated the environment to such a level that others were ready to join them in taking the life of a Muslim, got off after one or two stops.
God knows why and from where they had entered into our compartment. Although they had gone, toxic buzz continued. And I took a sigh of relief and felt lucky to be safe and alive.
The lessons I draw from this experience is that in the prevailing Islamophobic atmosphere, everyone with the looks and (Muslim) appearance like mine, must avoid travelling on his own; more so when travelling between Delhi, UP and Haryana. When necessary, don’t travel in general and sleeper compartments.
I do not want to comment on the impact of this incident on my thinking and my subconscious. What can I say when our elders are trying to convince us that India is the safest country for Muslims in the world?
Let it be said that luck does not favour you all the time. I survived this incident, but if the situation does not improve, next time I, or someone else like me, will not be so lucky. Allah has laid a clear principle: ‘Verily Allah does not change a people’s condition unless they change their inner selves.’ (Qur’an, Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:11)
(The author is a young Islamic scholar and social activist. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)
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