Three days after the tragic incident in which Asgar Abbas Ali was shot dead inside a train along with three others by a railway guard, his brother, Mohammad Sanaullah, is still unable to process the loss. Neighbours have been gathering at their house in Bisfi village of eastern Bihar state’s Madhubani district to show solidarity with the bereaved family. Sanaullah, 35, expressed his grief, questioning why his brother had to face such a fate when he was a simple man who never troubled anyone.
Ali, 48, had boarded a train for Mumbai from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state, on July 30. The next morning, when the train reached Palghar, a town outside Mumbai, a 33-year-old armed guard from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) went on a rampage, allegedly killing three Muslim men and his Hindu colleague. The accused RPF constable, Chetan Singh, first fired his service rifle at his senior colleague and then shot two passengers in the train’s pantry coach. Ali was the last target, whom he shot dead in another compartment.
After the fourth murder, Singh hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh state’s hardline chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, both members of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in a chilling video that showed Ali lying bleeding at his feet. Singh attempted to stop the train and get off near Borivali on the outskirts of Mumbai, where he was apprehended by the police and charged with multiple murders and other offences.
The incident has sparked outrage, with family members, activists, and opposition politicians calling it a hate crime and an act of terror. The village head in Bisfi, Mohammad Ziauddin, attributed the hate to media and people associated with the BJP and its far-right ideological mentor, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which aims to create an ethnic Hindu state in India.
Ali, a father of three daughters and a son, sold bangles in Jaipur but struggled with his business. He had explored other opportunities and was on his way to Mumbai to join a mosque as a muezzin. The village head demanded compensation for Ali’s family and urged the government to support the education of his children and provide a job to a family member.
Among the other victims, Kadar, a 64-year-old from the Bohra Shia sect, had been living in Nalasopara for 25 years, running a shop selling household products. He was originally from Bhanpur in Madhya Pradesh and was returning to Mumbai after observing Muharram. Saifuddin, 43, had dreams of seeing his daughters become doctors. He was forced at gunpoint by Singh to leave his seat and was shot dead in the pantry coach. Both Kadar and Saifuddin leave behind grieving families.
The families of all three victims are demanding strict punishment for Singh, who targeted their loved ones out of hatred for Muslims. Asaduddin Owaisi, a prominent Muslim parliamentarian from Hyderabad, condemned Prime Minister Modi for staying silent on the killings and not expressing sympathies for the families affected. The incident has raised concerns about hate-driven violence in the country.
Source: Al Jazeera