The Jai Shri Ram Police

Maskwaith Ahsan
Art & Literature, Short Story
The Jai Shri Ram Police

Like any other day Hussain is reciting from the Quran, unfazed by mundane affairs. His journey has been one of pursuit of freedom from greed. He runs a seminary for orphans in Muzaffarnagar, holds the hand of any helpless child who crosses his path, and is a trusted figure across Uttar Pradesh.

Even when a bunch of police storm his room he remains calm, politely asks them not to hurt his children who are in a study session in the Quran center. A policeman shouts, ”Son of a bitch, why don’t you go to your father’s land?”

“Where would I go, this is my motherland. I am almost 84, this I where I want to die,” exclaims Hussain.

Police charge ahead with bamboo rods and ask Hussain to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’.

Before he can say anything, they enter the Quran Center and start beating up the children.

One policeman asks Hussain, “Why did you join the protest against the new citizenship law?”

Hussain firmly denies it, “None of my children joined the protest.” But the Rapid Action Force strips his clothes and beats him up till he faints.

When he comes to, he finds himself in a police barrack. He hears the police beat up his children as they ask for water. “Is this Karbala where even a drop of water can’t be offered to a child!” he murmurs but can’t seem to get up. The Jai Shri Ram police had shoved a rod into his anus. After leading a peaceful, law abiding life why would the state send police to torture and minimize his very existence; the question wails inside him.

Many of his friends and relatives had told him that he was wrong to love his motherland so much. As a scholar he had offers from abroad but his heart was always in Muzaffarnagar and with the children he raised.

The police search for anything, even the slightest of indiscretions that would help brand Hussain a radical Muslim and the seminary a haven for militants. They interrogate his neighbors but no one has anything bad to say about him.

A Hindu shopkeeper tells the police, “He doesn’t fit into your terrorist jacket. His heart is too big for your Hindu-Muslim stories.”

The police have no choice but to release Hussain and his children, but they are in bad shape. The adult seminary students are kept detained in hope of finding some little thing to justify their savage Jai Shri Ram rapid action against the seminary.

Exhausted and bed-ridden Hussain keeps on claiming that none of his students took part in the protest. But the police need at least hundred names to file a case, any hundred Muslim names.

During the protest, 14-year-old Sadiq is looking for his 11-year-old brother when the same police arrest him and force him to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’. He cries again and again that he had nothing to do with the protest, he was only looking for his younger brother.

“If you tell us the names of 100 Muslims who took part in the protest we will stop beating you,” say the police. “Tell us about the seminary boys. Are they linked to militancy! Did mullah Hussain preach ‘Jihad’ to you?”

Sadiq fails to give names, the police heat a rod and hold it against his hands. He’s kept in police detention for four days. Stripped to his underwear he’s tortured, and like other child prisoners he’s denied food or water. When his mother comes to take him from police custody, she faints after seeing her son’s condition.

After a week Sadiq visits Hussain and asks him, “What is Jihad?”

Hussain says, “It’s a constant fight against your inner-flaws. The human mind gets corrupted over and again by the greed for money, power, sense of superiority and violence. We have to constantly fight such evil thoughts.”

Astonished, Sadiq asks, “Why then were the police inquiring about the seminary and Jihad?”

“Violent people look for non-violent people to prove their superiority. But in the eyes of God, all men are equal,” explains Hussain.

“Hindu militants tortured you, me and us. Shouldn’t we take revenge!” shouts Sadiq in anguish and pain.

Hussain smiles a tired smile, “If we keep blinding each other for revenge, the whole world will become blind one day. Do you want that?”

“What should we do then?”

“We must remain law abiding, peaceful people. We should pray for those who are blinded by hatred so that they get back on the right path.”

“What is the right path?”

“Love and tolerance,” whispers Hussain, a very tiny whisper.

Maskwaith Ahsan. Maskwaith Ahsan is an international journalist, educator and the author of over 14 books. His columns appear in several Bengali newspapers, magazines and websites across the globe. He also hosts his web TV show E-SouthAsia. With socio-political satire...

Releted Posts