NEW DELHI: Irshad Khan, son of a dairy farmer lynched by cow vigilantes, is not going anywhere. He is an Indian, and has no intentions of moving to Pakistan, he says.
"We Muslims will not go and live in Pakistan. India is our motherland too," said Irshad, as he made an impassioned plea today, seeking justice for his father.
The 24-year-old man, who was also attacked by the mob of self-styled 'gau rakshaks' in Alwar on April 1, alleged that "attempts were being made to let the accused go scot-free".
Addressing a public forum -- Agrarian Crisis, Cow Politics & Lynching -- hosted by the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan here, Irshad said, "Lynchings are continuing to take place as the government is not taking a strong stand".
Attempts were being made to divide the people on religion, and Muslims were often asked to leave India for Pakistan. But, he added, Hindu and Muslims had always lived peacefully in the country.
"Some bad elements don't want the two communities to be in harmony, so that vote bank politics can be orchestrated. Lynchings are also happening to divide the people," he said.
A string of lynching incidents has been reported in the country, the latest being that of a Muslim man killed by a mob for allegedly carrying beef in a van in Jharkhand late last month.
"Many Muslims have been assaulted or verbally abused and forced to chant a religious slogan by some outfit, who tell us (Muslims) to go to Pakistan. I say, we will not go to Pakistan. I was born here and India is also my motherland,"
Irshad told a packed hall at the Constitution Club here.
The 55-year-old Pehlu Khan was brutally beaten, after being intercepted by the vigilantes in Alwar, while he and his two sons, Irshad and Arif, were travelling in a pick-up car, carrying cattle from Jaipur.
"My father had been in dairy farming for a long time.
We were transporting the cattle with all the required permits, but the vigilantes threatened us then started assaulting us with belts, sticks, metal knuckle-caps. My father was punched in the eye and hit in stomach. He bled profusely, and, on April 3, he died at a hospital," said 19-year-old Arif, who still trembles recalling the incident.
Pehlu's uncle Hussain Khan, who also attended the event, alleged that "pressure was being exerted" to ensure "bail for the accused".
"We want justice for Pehlu. If these accused are allowed to go scot-free, we, the family, will go to the court in Rajasthan and commit suicide there," said Hussain, as the hall fell silent.
"Our loyalty and allegiance is questioned. We are being called beef-eaters and asked to leave the country and settle in Pakistan. Why are we Muslims being forced to prove our patriotism and nationalism," Hussain asked.
His forefathers, he said, had sacrificed their lives for the country's freedom.
"This (India) is also our country, our homeland. And, we will live here," Hussain asserted.
Historian and former professor of history at the Delhi University D N Jha also spoke at the event, which was attended by people from various sections of society.