Communalism

8-Year-Old Madrasa Student Dies in Scuffle Between Two Groups of Children

Police apprehended four boys, aged between 12-13, in connection with the incident. Other madrasa students claim that bystanders encouraged the attack while hurling abuses and mocking their attire.

New Delhi: An eight-year-old boy was killed on Thursday in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar during a fight between two groups of children. The boy, Mohammed Azeem, was a student of Jamia Faridia and Jama Masjid madrasa located in Begumpur area. According to the police, four boys all aged between 12 and 13, from nearby Valmiki colony, have been apprehended and a case registered against them under IPC Section 302.

DCP (south) Vijay Kumar said that the boys would be sent to a juvenile home. Kumar said it appears that the boy died of an “internal injury”. The DCP said that two groups of children from different communities, aged between eight and 11 years old, were playing on a plot of land near the madrasa when a scuffle broke out. The victim, Mohammad Azeem, was thrashed and his head hit a motorcycle, after which he lost consciousness. He was taken to a hospital by a local resident, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Azeem’s classmate, 12-year-old Mohammad Anas, said, “The junior students were playing on the madrasa plot when boys from the adjacent Valmiki colony came and started beating them up. During the fight, one of them pushed Azeem. His head hit a bike, after which Azeem fell unconscious. When he was taken to the hospital, doctors declared him brought dead.” Most of the senior madrasa students were studying the Quran while Azeem was being beaten up.

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Two elder brothers of Azeem also study at the Jamia Faridia madrasa. The brothers hail from Mewat district’s Rithat village in Haryana, where their family still lives. The victim’s father Khaleel Ahmed (41) is a labourer.

Speaking to The Wire, Khaleel Ahmed says, “We received a call at around 11 am on Thursday telling me that my son had fell down while playing and fainted. No one informed me about his death. They just asked me to reach Delhi immediately. I came to know of his death when I arrived. Azeem was our youngest son. He was a wonderful boy. What was his crime?”

Azeem’s father Khaleel Ahmed. Credit: The Wire/Prashant Kanojia

Expressing his grief over the incident, madrasa caretaker, Maulana Mohammad Ali says, “It’s not a stray incident but a daily struggle. People from the neighbouring settlement have been continuously harassing us. But it has increased lately. They called some others from the locality and started pelting stones at the kids. They were abusing the children as well. When the kids asked them why they were abusing them, they started beating Azeem.”

He alleges, “It is the doing of a woman called Saroj and her husband Kaku. They constantly incite the local kids against us and urge them to harass the madrasa kids. They had beaten up some kids about ten days ago also. They want to take control of the madrasa land. They come here and conduct illegal activities. They drink alcohol and throw empty bottles at the dargah.”

The boys apprehended on the charge of murder study in a government school in Malviya Nagar. All four of them are aged between 12 and 13. Their mothers are domestic helps while fathers are labourers.

The boys’ mothers claim that they were at work when the incident took place. They claim to have no idea what happened.

The mother of one of the accused boys says, “Our kids used to play there earlier as well, but no such fight ever took place. We don’t know what started the fight. We’re really sad about the incident. We’re sad over Azeem’s death.”

Valmiki Basti resident Saroj denies the allegations. “We have been living here for the past ten years. I don’t know how all this happened. People are dragging me and my husband into this matter. I admit that people drink alcohol and take drugs on the madrasa plot and gamble too. But we have nothing to do with the incident.”

However, a madrasa student claims that after the scuffle, some people from the madrasa had caught hold of two of the attackers. Saroj came and freed them, the student said. Saroj, on the other hand, says she wasn’t present there.

‘Bystanders were encouraging the accused’

Another madrasa student claims that while the boys were beating up Azeem, a few bystanders were encouraging the accused. “They were mocking us about our attire and skull caps. They were hurling abuses at us over our religion,” he said.

CCTV footage shows the fight between the two groups, but none of the bystanders are seen interfering.

The police say that they are investigating the matter and looking into the allegations on both the sides. A battalion has been deployed near the madrasa and the Valmiki Camp Basti to maintain law and order in the area. The police are examining the CCTV footage from the area.

Translated from Hindi by Naushin Rehman

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