Two days after Eid-ul-fitr, on 18 June, Mohammad Qasim, a 50-year-old residing in Hapur district’s Pilkhuwa town, received a phone call. He left home soon after—between 10 and 10.30 am. He told his son Mahtab that he would return with a goat or buffalo. He did not name the caller, but said that he had been offered a deal on the purchase of the animals in Bajhera Khurd, a village about 7 kilometres away. Mahtab assumed that the caller was an acquaintance of his father’s.
At about 4 pm that day, Mahtab recounted, he received a call from a neighbour, who told him that Qasim was at the Pilkhuwa Kotwali. “Thane gaye, thane mein nahi milein. Fir hospital gaye, wahan pe unki laash thi.” (We went to the police station, but he was not there. Then we went to the hospital. His body was there.) “Sharir pe nishaan the—dande ke, chakku ke, daranti ke” (There were marks on his body—of sticks, of knives, and of axes.)
Qasim worked as a butcher, and sold goat and buffalo meat. On 21 June, I visited his home—located about 70 kilometres east of Delhi, down National Highway 9. Along with his family, he lived in a rented room in a two-storey building in Pilkhuwa. Two goats were tied out front. Mahtab, 20, is the oldest of his six children. He makes a living selling fruit from a cart.
What happened after Qasim left has now been widely reported—upon reaching the spot purportedly for making the purchase, Qasim was attacked by a mob, brutally beaten, and lynched. A widely circulated video shows Qasim in a barren field located in the village Bajhera Khurd, in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district. He is surrounded by a group of men who are thrashing him— Rajputs residing in Bajhera Khurd, according to village residents I later spoke with. The attackers can be heard calling Qasim a “sisterfucker” and a “pig.” Qasim appears to be in extreme pain—he is only half-conscious, and the flesh around his right ankle seems to have been hacked off. At one point, he collapses. The men can be heard discussing whether or not he should be given water and allowed to live. The video appears to have been shot in the presence of policemen; a voice from the crowd can be heard referring to a policeman present nearby. “Policemen found the cows,” the voice yells. “The ones standing right here.”
Another man was attacked as well—Mohammed Samiuddin, a resident of the bordering village Madapur, who reportedly came to Qasim’s help. He was severely beaten up and is currently in the ICU at Devnandini Hospital in Hapur city.