From its colourful past to how it was not a clash but a politically motivated riot, the media did fail to highlight any aspect of the Kasganj violence. But what happened once the the attention died down? The riot, that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Chandan Gupta and the burning down of several shops, has now also become responsible for severely injuring a 45-year-old.
For two days, Chhotan’s family had convinced him to stay at home, atleast till the riots in the village died down for a bit. But by the third day, the family had gone through every grain of food in the house. Chhotan’s wife Shehnaz had run out of excuses to give to her daughter and son. Add to that, the family also had to feed the three children of Chhotan’s deceased brother.
Fearing that the family will die from hunger, on the afternoon of January 28, Chhotan left his home to sell some chickens on his bicycle. But when he did not return by nightfall, Shehnaz along with their neighbours set out in a jeep to search for him. Hours later, Chhotan was found lying amongst bushes on the side of the roads in Chittera. His assailants had left him fearing that the jeep approaching was that of the police.
Chhotan received grievious injuries to his head and was admitted to the ICU of JN Medical College Hospital in Aligarh. He had to undergo a brain surgery and was on a ventillator. Though he is now off the ventilator, he still continues to be in a severe condition.
An FIR has also been filed by the victim’s family, but the police have made no efforts whatsoever to identify his attackers and arrest them.
For Chhotan’s family, survival has now become a major issue as Shehnaz has to take care of the medical bills. Chhotan being the only bread earner, the family has now been left on the mercies of their neighbours, who are providing them with food, for now. The doctors have also said that even if Chhotan survives, he might suffer from severe disabilities, as a result of the injuries to the frontal lobe, a part of brain that controls motor functions, memory and language among other things.
Riots or not, for the poor daily wage earners with meagre incomes, staying at home is never an option. Why has the District administartion or the UP government not done anyhting to compensate the family? Is it because Chhotan had no political agenda or involevment in the riots or is it because he was a poor Muslim trying to earn a living by fair means?
Since silence is the only weapon that empowers the rioters, the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) in collaboration with Crowd Newsing, has come forward with a campaign through which they hope to raise 10 lakh for Chhotan’s family. It has already raised an amount of 3 lakh and hopes to achieve its target soon. Through it, the oragnisation hopes to send out two messages – one to those who think Kasganj is no more in the news and that it's easy for people to forget and move on. And two - to those who think its easy to divide us with fabricated stories and a fake news propaganda.