For Ankit Saxena’s Kin, Iftar Transcends Religious Boundaries
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
It was a Sunday evening, and yet the air outside Ankit Saxena's house was buzzing with energy.
It has been over four months since Ankit was brutally murdered by his girlfriend’s family, but that has not dimmed his family’s spirit. If anything, Ankit's kin have risen from the tragedy to promote a message of communal harmony and peace, challenging the ideology that led to his death — it was reported at the time that Ankit was murdered because his Muslim girlfriend’s family opposed their relationship because of religion.
The entire neighborhood descended on the Saxena doorstep to help out, with glasses of Rooh Afza and chilled water being passed around; and coolers fixed inside the houses brought outside to beat the hot Delhi air that clung heavy.
To read this story in Hindi, click here.
A neighbour approached me with a glass of water as I entered the lane, where carpets were laid out in preparation. Sitting down next to me, she said:
Amidst the lively preparations, Ankit's loss could be felt clearly. Ashish Duggal, Ankit's cousin, who was busy supervising the arrangements, said, “The entire idea to organise an iftar came from our friend Azhar. But if Ankit were here, it would have been completely different. Our aim is to spread the message of peace and communal harmony.”
This is hardly the first time that Ankit's friends have organised an Iftar.
Ankit's friend and namesake – Ankit – says:
Come One, Come All
And come together they did. Apart from Ankit's family and friends, several other well-wishers and good Samaritans too attended the event.
Masoom Nabi was one such person. Nabi had heard of the event via an earlier article published on The Quint, and had arrived to offer his support.
The Iftar was organised under a trust set up by Ankit's father — The Ankit Saxena Trust. The trust aims to promote communal peace, and the Iftar helped kick-off its work.
Like Nabi, there were several others who extended their support to the family. Tani Bhargahav from the IC Foundation first met Ankit's father, Yashpal Saxena, when he was grieving the loss of his son. “I read about the Ankit's murder in a newspaper and have been associated ever since. What the family is doing is exceptional and quite marvellous” she says.
Malathi, another social worker, too learnt of the event through a news article.
By 6:45 pm, the lane outside Ankit's house was bursting to its seams, as media persons and attendees gathered. Bowls of fruit and packets of biryani were passed around, as those observing a fast prepared for their meal.
At 7:17 pm, fasts broken with a prayer to Allah, and people from all faiths dug into their meals.
Among the attendees was Dr Kafeel Khan, the doctor accused of the Gorakhpur deaths. Speaking to The Quint, he said:
As for Yashpal Saxena himself, it was a constant struggle between news channels. But on one thing he remained firm:
To sum up Sunday evening in Dr Kafeel Khan’s words, “Like they say, I’m neither a Muslim, not a Hindu. I was born human, and human I shall remain.”
Crowdnewsing, a crowdfunding platform, has raised over Rs 4 lakh for the creation of the Ankit Saxena Trust. Click here to contribute to the fund.