Talks of communal unity and secularism sound all very well in the confines of air-conditioned rooms and over a cup of tea. Away from that sanitised environment, on the dusty lanes and bylanes of the country, however, the practicability of those ‘exalted’ ideas takes a massive beating. Religious hatred is a frightening reality on the ground, and those who are at the wrong end of it have a much bitter tale to tell than what the armchair opinion-makers would want us to believe sitting in their ivory towers.
Seventeen-year-old Ravi, a Dalit boy from Haryana, was one such victim of religious hatred. His mistake: He dared to befriend a girl named Mubeen.
Once, Ravi had gone along with his friend to wish Mubeen on New Year. Hours passed and Ravi seemed to be taking more time than usual at Mubeen’s place. His family members waited till morning, and when Ravi still did not return, they got really worried. They started searching for him. After considerable efforts, they finally found Ravi, but not exactly in a safe and sound condition. Ravi was lying on the road and bleeding profusely. His relatives quickly arranged for a private vehicle and rushed him to the nearest hospital.
The police revealed that while Ravi was waiting for Mubeen, he was attacked by her kin. Ravi cried for help, but his friend ran away in fear, leaving Ravi at the mercy of an irate mob. The mob beat Ravi mercilessly and left him to die on the road in a pool of blood. Ravi finally succumbed to his injuries.
You can read a ground report on the case by one of our co-founders Swati Goel Sharma here.
Ravi’s demise came as a bolt from the blue for his family. They had taken a loan of Rs 1 lakh for Ravi’s hospitalisation and treatment. The loan was taken on a significant monthly interest.
Ravi could not be saved, and if the loss of a loved one was not enough, there was also the spectre of creditors coming hunting for money. A family that barely managed to meet its basic needs could not fathom how to pay back the loan that it had taken.
Ravi’s case received substantial media attention, but still, could not generate any significant help from the wider society. That is unless we stepped in. We immediately transferred Rs 1 lakh to Ravi’s family. This allowed the family to clear its debts, for which Ravi’s father Vedpal never ceases to thank us.
True, it is beyond the power of anybody to bring Ravi back, and that nothing would be balm enough for the loss that Ravi’s family had suffered, but we at least could give his grieving family a shoulder to cry on. Unfortunately, there are people and organisations who fleece these vulnerable sections of society in the name of helping them. We at Sewa Nyaya Utthan Foundation have always been wary of such wicked designs and have gone the distance in helping those whom we meet or those who approach us.