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10 Dec 2017

Role model that failed

Pheroze L Vincent, TT, 9 December 2017, New Delhi: To Wangyan, a Tibetan student from the Delhi School of Social Work, India had been a "role model" among countries.
So, he says, the brutal murder of Afrajul Khan, a migrant labourer from Bengal, in the Rajasthan town of Rajsamand this week hurt just that much more.
Wangyan was among people protesting the killing at Connaught Place on Saturday, many holding up placards saying "Muslim lives matter". Demonstrations were also held outside a Rajasthan government office in the capital.
"I'm here because we Tibetans look up to India as a great democracy," Wangyan told The Telegraph.
"The recent killings of Muslims has disheartened many people who look up to India as a secular nation that offers basic human rights to its residents. It hurts more when the country that is your role model fails."
At noon, students and trade union centres picketed at Bikaner House, the seat of Rajasthan's principal resident commissioner.
"It's not merely a law-and-order or political problem but a cultural problem. Its frontlines are our homes and neighbourhoods," Amitabh Pandey of the Indian People's Theatre Association said.
"A struggle must be waged for three to four generations to combat this resurgence of superstition and hatred."
Afrajul, a 49-year-old from Malda, was hacked to death and burnt in a wooded area on Wednesday and a video of the crime uploaded on social media.
Accused Shambhulal Regar, 45, who has been arrested, is purportedly seen in the video and several others defending his action and mouthing sectarian remarks.
"Who do we seek justice from? The same man who was chief minister during the 2002 riots?" said Aatir Arshad of the Jamia Students' Forum.
"The Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP are united. We are divided in our ideologies. If we don't unite to stop them, they will enter our universities too."
Ovais Khan of Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, the organiser of the Connaught Place protest, said: "We say 'Muslim lives matter' because while atrocities against Dalits and others are recognised as targeted crimes, those against Muslims are generalised because of the unjust notion that talking about human rights of Muslims leads to polarisation."
Political scientist Zoya Hasan, who participated in the protest, said: "While all lives matter, there is a situation where some are under greater threat.... It's not just an attack on the Constitution but on basic human decency. Everyone should be protesting as it is ultimately a challenge to the right to life."
Sadaf Musharraf, cousin of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed who has been missing since a hostel clash with ABVP activists last year, said: "Isn't it the job of a Prime Minister to make his citizens feel safe? Aren't we citizens?"
She added: "He tweets for everything. Can't he at least put out a tweet condemning the murder? I no longer feel safe enough to bring up my children here."

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