MUMBAI: Hours after five people were brutally lynched by a mob in Dhule district on Sunday, a group of five others, including two women and an infant, had a close shave from another lynching mob in Nasik district – thanks to the brave act of a local Muslim youth who risked his own life to save the five people.
Reports say this group too had earlier in the day planned to go to Dhule to find daily-wage work but after one of the women found out her daughter was unwell, they planned to return home on a train from Manmad, 35km from Malegaon. They arrived in Malegaon to seek alms and were told by a local that they could get some money near the mosque in the Roshanabad area, says a report in The Times of India. However, a report in News18.com says the incident took place in Manmad. They were originally from Parbhani district.
According to TOI, around 9.30pm, when they were seeking alms, they spoke in Marathi to a 13-year-old boy who was reportedly returning home from Arabic classes. The boy couldn’t understand what they were saying as he didn’t know Marathi and rushed home to tell his parents the group was allegedly dragging him. This sparked rumours of ‘bachcha chor,’ which spread rapidly via social media, and a mob soon gathered at the spot near the civic-run Ali Akbar Hospital and set upon the villagers.
The group was just about to be attacked by the mob but was saved by a local youth identified as Wasim, a fruit-seller, and some others who promptly pushed all five into a house and a small mill stocking textile raw material. Fruit-seller Shaikh Wasim Shaikh Karim intervened saying he had seen the group in the town earlier, but that did not pacify the mob. However, Shaikh Wasim along with his uncle Rasheed Rationwala, on finding an opportunity, quickly hid the couple and a child in Rationwala’s house nearby and the other two villagers in the mill room. They kept the surging mob back until a huge police contingent reached the spot and rescued the group close to midnight.
“The mob also damaged and overturned a police van along with a bike,” Harssh Poddar, additional superintendent of police, Malegaon was quoted as saying.
The police officer said the rescued persons were identified as Gajanan Hiray (30), his wife Sindhu (28), their two-year-old son, Yogesh Wani (30) and Ansuya Wani (30). “They told us they were asking the 13-year-old boy the way out from that area,” Poddar told TOI. “We are going through cctv footage to establish the identity of those who pelted stones,” he added.
The SP expressed his appreciation for owners of the mill Afreen Sizing Works and Rasheed Rationwala for saving the five from the mob.
Rationwala said, “We want to send out a message that Muslims don’t kill, they save people. I kept the five in my house to save humanity.”
Only last week, two beggars had been beaten up in Malegaon on suspicion of being child-lifters and were saved by a local social worker, Rizwan Batterywala.