diumenge, 29 de juliol del 2018

Before burning them

Raghav took me to a very large open patch of ground by the train sheds, a phantasmagoric scene with a vast garbage dump on one side with groups of people hacking at the ground with picks, a crowd of boys playing cricket, sewers running at our feet, train tracks and bogies in sheds in the middle distance, and a series of concrete tower blocks in the background. A
week ago, I had been standing at the other side of this ground. A Muslim man had pointed out where I now stood, saying, “That is where the Hindus came from.”
This is where Raghav and the boys caught two Muslims. They had strayed. “We burnt them. We poured kerosene on them and set them on fire,” said Raghav.
“Did they scream?” I asked him.
“No, because we beat them a lot before burning them. Then their bodies lay here in the ditch, rotting, for ten days. Crows were eating them. Dogs were eating them. The police wouldn’t take the bodies away, because the Jogeshwari police said it was in the Goregaon police’s jurisdiction, and the Goregaon police said it was the railway police’s jurisdiction.”
Raghav also told me about an old Muslim man who was throwing hot water on the Sena boys. They broke down his door, dragged him out, took a neighbor’s blanket, wrapped him in it, and set him on fire. “It was like a movie: silent, empty, someone burning somewhere, and us hiding, and the army. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep, thinking that just as I have burnt someone, somebody could burn me."

Suketu Mehta, Maximum City.