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'You Want Azadi?': The Chant That Haunts This Muezzin Who Woke Up in Hospital Torn Away from His Family

File photo of security personnel conducting a flag march during Delhi riots.

File photo of security personnel conducting a flag march during Delhi riots.

Barely able to speak through the stitches on his mouth, Jalaluddin, a muezzin from riot-hit Mustafabad in northeast Delhi, yearns for contact with his wife and children as he weeps and sleeps in pain.

New Delhi: Jalaluddin, a muezzin from the riot-hit locality of Mustafabad in northeast Delhi, has blood clots all over his face, bruises on his body and stitches on his mouth, making it difficult for him to even speak.

But he does manage to utter three words — “woh kahan hain (where are they)”. The ‘woh’ are his wife and five children.

On Wednesday morning, he woke up in the hospital with two more men lying injured on the beds flanking his, but no one of his own to listen to his pain and attend to his needs. Every riot injured patient in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital has a family member or a friend to attend to them, but Jalaluddin is alone. He weeps in pain, sleeps in pain.

He doesn’t know how he landed in hospital after facing the worst attack on his family on Tuesday night. It was a regular evening for him. After the Maghreb call for prayers, he joined his family in the house which is inside the masjid. The vitriol had already spilled onto the streets and families were wary of moving out. Hence, Jalaluddin didn’t venture out and stayed inside with his family, assuming he was safe within the four walls of the house. Suddenly, unidentified men barged inside the masjid premises and started hitting him and his family members. He lost consciousness and woke up in hospital on Wednesday morning, asking his wife and kids. “I don’t know where my family is, and they don’t know where I am. Everything happened with such brutality that I thought I would not survive. There were men brutally attacking me and my family with lathis. They were hurling abuses at me. I can’t recall anything as my head and hands are hurting,” he said. But he remembers one thing the rioters said while attacking him – “so you want azadi?” “These people with batons asked me ‘azadi chahiye’. The blows continued without a break. I begged them to leave me and then fell unconscious. In the morning, I found myself here in the hospital. The area was so tense I don’t know who got me here and how I came here.”

His wife and five children didn’t know anything about him till late in the afternoon, till some people in the hospital contacted an acquaintance of his from Laxmi Nagar.

Mohammad Aamir, an imam from Laxmi Nagar, was brought to the hospital and he made a call to people in the locality to know about his family. “We have traced his family after hours of getting no information about them. We’ve learnt that they are fine, and we have told them about Jalaluddin’s condition. Some arrangements will be made for the family to be safe. The situation is sensitive, they can’t move around in curfew,” said Aamir.

The ward is populated with victims of riots. Some have brothers and sisters to attend to them, while some have acquaintances helping them in their hour of need. They are also following up with doctors on X-Rays, ultrasound, CT scan reports, medicines and further treatment. But Jalaluddin has no one. His family cannot travel to the hospital given the curfew and the tense situation.

He sleeps or cries in pain as the bruises on his hand ooze fresh blood.

The doctors in the ward are waiting for the report to come. “There is no one from his family around him, we will send an attendant to listen to him,” said a doctor.