(It’s been 14 years since the Batla House encounter against alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorists that ended up killing a Delhi Police officer. The Quint is republishing this memoir from its archives, originally published on 5 May 2018.)
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On 19 September 2008, on a tip-off, Special Cell of Delhi Police raided L/18 flat in a Muslim-majority neighbourhood of Batla House. The area was cordoned off to nab the suspects of the Delhi Blasts. In the gunfire exchange, two occupants of the flats were killed, one occupant surrendered, and a police inspector was martyred.
Neyaz Farooquee was at the time, studying in Jamia University and lived in a flat close to where the encounter took place. Years later, he has penned a memoir on his experiences as a boy from Bihar who came to Delhi’s Jamia Nagar for better prospects.
"I was scared that night, too scared to really sleep. This was true, I am sure, of people across Jamia Nagar. The coming nights and days will not bring any relief. More so for young people like us, who were living away from our families. As hope, as keepers of unfulfilled dreams. Of returning as doctors, engineers, managers, civil servants, rich, and powerful."Neyaz, Farooquee, An Ordinary Man’s Guide to Radicalism
Entire India comes to Delhi and Muslims come to Jamia Nagar.
Neyaz’s book takes us through his journey as a young boy who came to the glittering city of Delhi, only to move into a Muslim ghetto.
Jamia Nagar is a common choice for many young Muslim men from other parts of India. It has a central university, schools, coaching classes, Muslim mahaul and most importantly, a sense of of safety.
But the encounter changed that.
“The encounter made us realise that even after moving to a ghetto, we weren’t safe,” Neyaz told The Quint.
At least 15 boys went missing, or were killed in encounters, or thrown into jail where they wait for their trials to begin, according to a 2017 report by NGO Rahi Manch that tracked the status of those who were “picked up” after the encounter.
"The great ‘gift’ of Encounter was that in less than a week, everyone had become a suspect. Friends suspected best friends, acquaintances reassessed each other, landlords threw out students, shops downed shutters early, hangouts were deserted, and streets empty by sunset."Neyaz, Farooquee, An Ordinary Man’s Guide to Radicalism
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