Saira does not call her son by her name when they are out of the house. “I prefer to use J, it does not sound like a Muslim,” said Saira, 40, a former colleague from whom I learned the first name in his application and whose Muslim identity has never been before an argument. “I’m afraid what I say, but it’s the truth.”
J always asked his mother the difference between him and his friends, who always told him there were none. They were all Indians under different names, he said.
This explanation, Saira, obviously worried, told me that it is weakening at once of prejudices and violence against Muslims unusual.
“I never thought there would be a day when I live in fear in my country,” Saira said. His 80-year-old father, who lives in a mostly Hindu area, told him he had never imagined living in these times.
“And this from a man who has witnessed partition riots,” he said. “I tell my house never to reveal his identity when traveling alone on a train.
Yes, it has come to this. Just before I spoke with Saira, I heard the strange but disturbing story of Nazmul Hassan, an Aligarh power plant engineer arrested by the police on 2 July after being found at a train station in a burqa.
The police interrogated him closely to determine if it was related to terrorism, but the truth has fallen, they seem to have been bad for him.
“When Hassan was turned over to GRP, he was crying and shivering and repeated that he was a simple man who has never done anything wrong,” said then-Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pandey, Times of India .
Hassan was in a burka because he was recently threatened by another passenger who accidentally falls by train. The man insulted his Islamic faith, and – accompanied by others – said that Hassan would be driven Aligarh.
“I read about the killing of Junaid [a Muslim teenager stabbed to death by Hindus in Haryana last month] on a train … there are some days,” Hassan said. “I was afraid for my life after the threat.”
Fear of Hassan submerged facts: Muslim women, especially burkas and hijab often feel threatened, the feeling that has been known in recent years.
Last year, two women from the Muslim village Madhya Pradesh – not burkas – were beaten and slapped for the first time by vacheurs and later by a mob that had gathered, suspected of being beef.
It was found that meat to be a buffalo – called sabzi or vegetable, in local jargon, a euphemism that betrays fear of any kind of meat – but none of this would have been important.
Police, of course, women arrested because they were not allowed to sell meat under a national animal conservation law, but has not stopped those who beat them and abused it by saying “no one complained.”
For northern India, as many stories have revealed, Hindu groups mobilize through cities, running like angry bees to threaten or attack Muslims who believe they have acted or need to show them their place.
Sometimes other minorities like Dalits and Christians are also objective. Dals Gau Rakshak, welfare organizations, cows roam the roads, control vehicles – often with police support – that carry livestock.