On December 6, Mohammad Afrazul, a migrant worker from West Bengal was hacked with a cleaver and then set on fire by a man in Rajsamand, Rajasthan. The murder of the 50-year-old was recorded by the nephew of the accused Shambhulal Regar and the video had gone viral by Thursday.
The video showed Regar ranting about ‘love jihad’ and appealing to the people of Mewar to ‘eliminate’ the people with ‘Islamic Vichardhara’. The reason he murdered Afrazul is still unclear, but the strong feeling of communal hatred cannot be missed from his act.
This incident has outraged social groups as well as the opposition in Rajasthan. The opposition wants Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to resign immediately. One of the social groups Crowdnewsing, that has initiated a fundraising campaign titled ‘INDIA'S SHAME: Campaign for Relief and Justice for victims of hate’, felt that even after this brutality, the government and the pro-govt media will do everything they can to get the murderer out of the jail, and will even get him a job, as they have done in the past.
“The problem is not the murderer alone. It's the system that incentivises hate attacks and extra-judicial murders.”
The campaign organisers feel that getting the Supreme Court to intervene and order a court-monitored investigation, is the only way Afrazul’s family will get any justice. Though the West Bengal Government has decided to give Rs 3 lakh to the bereaved family, it would hardly cover the cost of Afrazul’s youngest daughter’s wedding. Hence,through their campaign they want to raise Rs 50 lakh for the family. They hope that this will send out a strong message: “We don't want charity from the government, we want justice. Money we can take care of ourselves.”
The organisers also want to raise another Rs 50 lakh to engage lawyers to build a strong case against Regar and make sure that he stays in jail for the horrendous nature of his crime.
“The funds will be used to undertake such legal steps necessary to ensure fair investigation and prosecution of the case. These are no ordinary cases, these communal attacks hurt the very essence of India's constitution,” said the page.
CrowdNewsing issued the following Press Statement:
Citizens raise more than 3 lakh rupees in 2 days to support Rajasthan victim’s family, create a legal fund.
Unhappy with the ex-gratia announcements made by Rajasthan government to support the family of hate crime victim Afrazul Khan, a group of citizens have initiated a crowdfunding drive to raise funds for the family of the daily wager.
So far, the campaign has raised 3,00,000 rupees from 160 contributors, with contributions ranging between 100 rupees and 25,000 rupees. The drive aims to raise 50 lac rupees to offer relief to the family and then raise funds for legal support.
“We want to send out a clear message to the government. We want our governments to give us justice, not charity. Citizens are capable of looking out for ourselves when it comes to money,” says Syed Mohammad Ahmer, one of the activists who initiated the campaign online.
"It's important that we raise a substantial fund to help the family of Afrazul Khan. The attack on him was not just an attack on one individual, but a direct attack on our constitution. Through Article 51A the Constitution makes it every citizen’s Fundamental Duty to follow secularism and non-violence, promote the spirit of common brotherhood and protect the unity of India. What Shambhulal Ragnar did was a violation of all these duties. This is a savage crime against India and against humanity. All citizens need to come together at this moment and support this crowdfunding drive,“ says Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India who is among the contributors.
The campaign titled - India’s Shame: Campaign for Relief and Justice for victims of hate is divided into two parts. The first phase of the campaign aims to raise funds for the family followed by the second phase where the campaigners aim to create a fund for legal support.
“We were shocked when we heard that Junaid’s father was struggling to get adequate legal help. As an organiser for the Not in my name protests, I felt no amount of protests can be fruitful if you can’t even create a pool of legal resources that are at the disposal of those fighting these hate-crime cases, says Bilal Zaidi, the founder of CrowdNewsing, the online platform that is hosting the campaign.
As described by the crowdfunding page (Afrazul.crowdnewsing.com), the campaign offers the following process: ‘It's impossible to prove anyone guilty when the investigating agencies themselves are hand in gloves with the murderers. The only way to keep people like Shambhulal Regar in jail is if the honourable Supreme Court is made to intervene and order a court-monitored probe into each of these cases. These are no ordinary cases, these communal attacks hurt the very essence of India's constitution.’
Note: In their previous campaigns, the platform CrowdNewsing has helped raise over 17 lacs for Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani’s election campaign in Gujarat, and 18 lacs for journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.