“Not a single bone of his body was unbroken. Both arms and legs were fractured in three places each. His shoulders and all his ribs were broken,” Haroun Khan spoke up from amongst the group of men who were sitting in the courtyard of Rakbar Khan’s home. Haroun is Rakbar’s first cousin and the man who went to the mortuary to claim Rakbar’s corpse.
“When I first received the body, it was frozen and seemed stiff. Rakbar had been dressed in new clothes that did not belong to him. As the temperature rose, we realised the extent of the injuries on the body. Even his neck was broken, his face was turning all the way to the back,” he said, holding his own neck. He began to sob.
I visited Rakbar Khan’s home, in Kolgaon village in tehsil Ferozepur Jhirka of Haryana’s Nuh district, on Tuesday, as part of a group representing the civil-society initiative Karwan e Mohabbat. When the Karwan team arrived, a large group of about 200 people was sitting outside Rakbar’s home. The leaders of the community and many others had gathered to make sure that the family was not alone in this time of mourning. These included Naseem Ahmed, the current member of legislative assembly of Ferozepur Jhirka, two former MLAs—Azad Mohammad and Habib Ur Rahman—and Lekh Raj, the sarpanch of a nearby village, Doha. The air hung heavy with a sense of helplessness, grief and bafflement.