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Imteyaz’s new lease on life

5 Min Read
Violence in Bihar Sharif left a trail of destruction and shattered lives © Miles2Smile

This is the story of Biharsharif carnage, which took place on March 31, 2023, during the Ramanavami procession, orchestrated by the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal and its allies. The group had obtained permission from the district administration to organize the procession, but it quickly turned into a display of hatred and violence.

Allegations suggest that the procession was marked by highly provocative and abusive slogans targeting Muslims. Derogatory chants filled the air, with slogans like “Go to Pakistan,” “Babar’s children’s graves will be dug in India,” and “Your end is certain now.” Large sound amplifiers mounted on trucks played communally charged songs, despite a ban on DJs and brandishing of weapons.

The attack was orchestrated by the Hindu militant organization Bajrang Dal and its allies, driven by a sinister agenda to systematically disenfranchise Muslims and deprive them of their livelihood resources.

The Ramanavami, a religious festival that had once been a unifying event in the town, had been cynically exploited as a cover for spreading hatred and targeting the Muslim community.

The Bajrang Dal members seized this opportunity to desecrate Muslims’ places of worship and unleash violence, creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred.

In the aftermaths, the Muslim community as a whole suffered. Businesses were destroyed, livelihoods were shattered, and trust among neighbors was eroded.

Muslims of Biharsharif bore the brunt of this hate-driven aggression, facing not only physical harm but also long-term socioeconomic consequences.

Miles2Smile visited the violence-stricken areas of Biharsharif, when the curfew was relaxed and the normalcy had apparently been restored. Our investigations revealed a complex web of factors from political machinations to the insidious local dynamics that fueled the flames of violence.

Who cares if thousands of innocents lose their lives and livelihoods?

One such innocent victim was Imteyaz. It was March 31, Friday evening when Imteyaz, a kind-hearted man known for his infectious smile, ventured forth on his daily routine of transporting passengers on his toto (e-rickshaw). Little did he know that this serene evening would become a day etched in his memory forever.

As he maneuvered his toto (e-rickshaw) through the crowded marketplace to reach the sabzi-mandi area that evening, he was swooped upon by 10-15 assailants, part of a larger crowd marching the town with weapons fueled by a blind rage and hatred.

Imteyaz found himself at the receiving end of violence, his body battered and bruised, his e-rickshaw damaged beyond repair. Even the battery of his e-rickshaw was stolen by the attacking mob, told Imteyaz.

In that moment, his thoughts turned to his beloved children, Ayat and Rehan, for whom he toiled tirelessly day and night.

Imteyaz chose to quit studies and help his father. He was married seven-years ago. Being illiterate, riding a rickshaw was all he could do  in his life to earn for his family. Now, that too was snatched by the rioters.  

The world around him seemed crumbling, since he had been bedridden due to his injuries. His wife started working as a house help to earn for his treatment and two children. “But the income was hardly sufficient to sustain the family. Proper treatment felt like an impossible dream,” said Imteyaz.

“My eyes pains almost all the time and I need to see a doctor at least once a week. Doctors say the eardrum of my left ear has been perforated. My legs have been so badly injured that they still pain and I can’t walk properly. Since the attack happened, my life has been juggling between the hospital and home. 

It was Miles2Smile foundation that took notice of my appalling condition and extended a generous financial help of Rs 1 lakh, immediately in my bank account. 

With the financial assistance, I was finally able to afford the necessary treatment at a hospital,  for my wounds beyond what would have been possible at home. I also invested in a new battery for my rickshaw, and resumed my work, moving past the painful tragedy. 

Meanwhile, the fear continues to haunt Imteyaz as the memories of that fateful day refuse to fade away. 

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