From Helpful Conductor to Sacking and Death, UP Bus Worker a Victim of Social Media Islamophobia

Mohit Yadav's family said that he was depressed after he was terminated from service in June following the circulation of a video of two of his passengers offering namaz on the side of the road.

New Delhi: Two months after being terminated from his contractual job for allegedly halting a state-run bus to allow two Muslim passengers to offer namaz on the road, a former bus conductor was found dead along the railway tracks in his native district of Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh.

Mohit Yadav’s body was sent for postmortem, the police said on Tuesday, August 29.

Mohit was depressed after he was terminated from service in June, and he was worried about his financial future, his younger brother Rinku Yadav told The Wire.

“He used to worry about his job and often wondered how he would be able to run the house without work,” said Rinku, 26, a farmer.

Rinku said that after Mohit lost his job, he would talk of taking a drastic step if he did not find work soon. “He would often despairingly say, ‘I will have to kill myself if I don’t get my job back.’ He was always worried,” said Rinku.

On Sunday evening (August 27), Mohit left the house, saying that he was on his way to Bareilly in the hope of getting back his job. “We thought he was on his way to the Bareilly depot. But it seems he changed his plan. We later received a phone call informing us that he had died after coming under a train,” said Rinku.

Mohit worked as a contractual employee with the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) and earned a monthly salary of Rs 17,000. He, along with his three brothers, shared 10 bighas of land. The earnings from the cultivation and two buffaloes along with Mohit’s salary kept the family going.

His family consists of three brothers, their parents, sister, and the wives of Mohit and Rinku. Mohit left behind a four-year-old son.

His job loss caused him financial and mental stress, said his family.

Mohit and Krishna Pal Singh, the driver of the Delhi-bound UPSRTC bus, were suspended and later terminated in June after a passenger on the bus shot a video of the two Muslim men offering namaz and shared it online.

In a video statement, after his termination, Mohit had clarified that he did not stop the bus specifically for the two Muslim men to offer namaz.

The bus was halted after three passengers had approached him, requesting that the bus be stopped so that they could urinate. Since the two Muslim passengers had already requested Yadav to allow them to offer namaz, he had asked them to make use of the halt and offer namaz.

“I didn’t stop the bus for the namaz. By the time those who wanted to relieve themselves returned, the two had already concluded their namaz. The bus must have stopped for just two minutes,” he had said.

After he allegedly died by suicide, his widow, Rinki Yadav, told local media that her husband had been unjustly terminated.

“He did not do anything wrong,” she said, repeating what her husband had earlier said in his defence.

“He didn’t stop the bus for the namaz but for those who wanted to urinate. They [those who read namaz] prayed for only two minutes. That’s all,” she said.

While the family is yet to lodge a police complaint, Rinku said the assistant regional manager (Bareilly) of the UPSRTC, who sacked him, was to be blamed for his brother’s death.

After losing his job, Mohit tried to get it back. He met with the concerned official, but despite assurances, he did not succeed in getting his job back. “Just three days ago, he had gone to meet with the assistant regional manager,” said Rinku.

Mohit did not leave behind any note.

While the police is yet to make a detailed statement on the matter, the main opposition Samajwadi Party said it would provide Yadav’s family a sum of Rs 2 lakh in support. The party demanded that the Yogi Adityanath government compensate Yadav’s family with Rs 50 lakh and a government job to one of his family members.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav criticised the state government for terminating Yadav’s job due to the act of allowing some passengers to offer prayers for two minutes. He described the episode as “unfortunate, condemnable and shameful”.

“Every employee of the UP transport department should demand compensation for the victim’s family. Tomorrow it might happen to someone else,” Yadav said.

If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers they can call to speak in confidence. Icall, a counselling service run by TISS, has maintained a crowdsourced list of therapists across the country. You could also take them to the nearest hospital.