Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Lucky Escape

Unfortunate Indians – when they step out of their homes, there is no certainty that they would come back home safely. One can be a victim of an unfortunate accident, unintended murder, a young man’s foolish rage or even a riot for no reason! 

I wish we had strict laws in India to punish such people fairly enough to give others a lesson to not to repeat such incidences. Sadly but truly, that’s not the case here. When rebellions can happen at a national highway, they can happen in any part of the country.

The country boasts highly of its diversity when it has been a major failure in maintaining it as strength and has mostly seen the bad sides of it. One of such many incidences has been watched and suffered by me and my family from such a close distance that it became indispensable for me to put my thoughts to writing.

September 14th 2012, 6:50 PM, like any other weekend, we left for my in laws place in Hapur, UP from Noida. I was accompanied by my husband Tarun, his friend Sandeep, my son Aarnav and my Sister in Law Richa. Little did we know, a riot awaited us on the way. It had been a rainy evening and hence the traffic jam was the most obvious thing on the road. Moving slowly but relentlessly, we reached Dasna on NH 24 at 7:30 PM to find a huge traffic jam. Since we were used to such things on this highway, we thought it was just another jam like any other rainy day. We moved as and when the congestion allowed and suddenly a car came and tried to move ahead of us. In spite of my husband’s trials to not to let him go before us, he did - courtesy: Indian Driving Style which applies on both of them! And as soon as that car moved ahead of us, so did a couple of cars following it. Finally the congestion refused to move and we switched off the engine of our car. We saw a few cars taking U-turn and moving back from the side lane. Suddenly we saw a few people running, and failing to understand what was happening, Sandeep bhaiya got out of the car to check the situation. My husband too got out of the car and saw Sandeep bhaiya running back towards us! Suddenly both of them asked us to get out of the car and run in the opposite direction. As it was obvious, there was no way we could take our car with us from the midst of the jam.

We took my handbag, mobiles, and the papers of our car; left the car and started running in the opposite direction till the point where the jam ended. My husband carried our son in his lap and asked us to run as fast as we could. I was still not aware why I was running but sensed that something has seriously went wrong as there were a lot of people by now who were running to save their lives. By this time, the mob had started throwing stones on the people stuck in jam. When we reached the end of jam, I luckily boarded a bus which has taken a U-turn to go back on the wrong side seeing the situation ahead. As soon as I boarded the bus, I realized that only I have boarded the bus and Richa and Tarun were still struggling to board it. The driver was not willing to stop the bus as something unfortunate could happen any moment. Somehow, Richa managed to board the bus too but Aarnav was still in Tarun’s lap. Tarun pushed him in the bus but Aarnav was not willing to leave his hand as he was not aware that I was already there in the bus. Somehow I got hold of him and pulled him inside. The bus started moving in the opposite direction and Sandeep bhaiya and Tarun, unable to board the bus, started running along the bus. By this time, we had learnt that somebody had torn the papers of Quran (a Holy book which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God) and hence the Muslims were in rage and burning cars and creating havoc. Suddenly the bus came to a stop and our heart beats rose knowing that the riot is happening on the other end of the road too. Now, we had nowhere to go. Lot of people got out of the bus to run on their own. We had no clue what we were supposed to do and waited for Tarun and Sandeep bhaiya, still not knowing whether they would even reach us or not. And then we saw them helping the driver in taking a turn and moving the bus to some place we didn’t know. 

Our bus and a couple of more buses moved into the so called forest on the sides of NH-24. It drove for around half a kilometre and came to a stop. Tarun came and took my cell phone to make calls as his cell phone’s battery exhausted. Now, I, Richa and Aarnav were seated in the bus along with some more passengers in the midst of a forest with no water, no food and no idea about how long we were going to be there like that! After half an hour spent in praying to god, discussing the situation with other passengers and convincing my son that all was well, the bus moved again. We came to know that they were moving the passengers to a safer place which was inside the warehouse of a mill. All the buses and a few cars now moved deeper in the forest inside a mill. Though we felt safer here, we were not free of the thought that raged people could come there any time and do the unexpected as Hindu-Muslim riots have always been a disaster in the history of India.

In the meantime, my cell phone was busy throughout as who ever came to know of the riot, tried to talk to us. We sat there for around an hour as my husband was busy talking on phone and arranging for us to get to a safer place. More than a couple of his brave friends reached the last reachable point to help us but were unable to move ahead because of the riot. My father in law and other members of the family were ready with a cab to come and pick us as soon as the situation allowed. Some of the other relatives who lived nearby also came to pick us but were not able to reach us due to the heavy disorder. In spite of our repeated requests to them to go back to their homes, they waited and kept asking us to move to some location from where they could pick us. What they didn’t know was, there was no way we could get out of there. One more friend of Tarun, Aslam bhaiya who was stuck in the riot too, somehow managed to reach a friend’s house at a nearby place. He was safe but his car was broken by the crowd and was still on the highway.

Another hour passed and there was no sign of Tarun and Sandeep bhaiya! And I was without a phone! Unexpectedly, a person called out my husband’ name and I got out of the bus and talked to him. He was Mr. Aggrawal, friend of Aslam Bhaiya and had come to take us to his home on his request. He made me talk to Aslam bhaiya and tried to convince me that we were safe with him. We followed him and started looking for Tarun and Sandeep bhaiya. We found them on the way out of there and conveyed our hesitation to go out of the warehouse. We were confident that we won’t be safe outside and it was sensible to stay in the warehouse till morning or so. But Tarun didn’t agree with us and asked us to follow them. Sandeep bhaiya also told Tarun that we should not leave this place as anything could happen outside if we were spotted by some furious mob. But, we left! At the gate of the mill, we were told by the guard that if you are going with Mr. Aggrawal, you are safe! And it was a big relief to us. When we came back on the NH-24, there wasn’t even a dog out there on the highway! Do you still remember- we  are in India!

We followed Mr. Aggrawal through some villages with a doubt in our minds! People on the way watched us from their windows and terrace as if we were some celebrities!  Finally, we reached his home and took a sigh of relief. We were safe now!
Now that we were safe, I suddenly remembered that both of my laptops were in the car and we had no idea if our car was set to fire too or broken, or was lucky to be untouched which could happen only under less than 1% chance. We made our minds to accept the loss of our laptops, car and a few more stuff which was in the car. We couldn’t sleep whole night and Tarun and Sandeep bhaiya went to the spot early in the morning to see if the matter was resolved and if our car was still there.

It can only happen by the grace of god that when more than 90 vehicles were set to fire, many broken with rods, many with their belongings stolen, our car stood there without any mark and with all our belongings as it is! It was one of the very few cars which were untouched. The car which was just in front of us in the jam was set to fire as soon as we had escaped from our car last night. The car which had overtaken us the last evening, stood there all broken! Thanks to its driver for not letting us go before him. Tarun brought the car, picked us from Mr. Aggrawal’s house and we left for Hapur again! On the way, we saw lots of broken cars including Aslam bhaiya’s car, police van which was set to fire, Masuri police station which was set to fire too and the broken glasses all over on the road. Finally at 8:00 AM, we reached home safely but with an anxious mind and a urge to do something about it!
Now that all of this had happened, we tried to dig into the actual cause of it. We read the papers line by line and word by word for the next 2-3 days that is till today and discussed with our relatives who are in Police and whose team was sent to the spot to take the matter under control. So the actual story is that somebody heard on his journey in a train that a few pages of Quran were laying on the road somewhere. He came and discussed that with some people and people came on the roads to express their anger! Below pictures have been taken at the scenes of the spot.

Though we reached home safely, it was only after we read the papers that we realized how bad it could have been. The mob didn't spare the women as well. They misbehaved with them and even tried to rape them.

Six people died in the incident and a curfew was declared in Masuri which is still as it is! One can see PAC, local police and other officials spreading up in the area.

While the cause of the riots sounds funny to me, the actual cause could be something else. Media sees some other reasons behind the incident.

Moreover, as reported in a newspaper, the matter was resolved by the police and the process of filing an FIR was going on when suddenly the mob gathered on the highway and started creating havoc. There are a few things which point towards the fact that it was not a just like that  riot. It looks like it was planned for the benefit of someone. May god help Indians!

And after such a loss has already occurred, our modest politicians are still mouth-shut for their personal reasons. 

While I am still unable to figure out the significance, benefit of such riots, I have been able to conclude that illiteracy is the biggest cause of such incidences! Illiterate Indian population is unaware of the facts, consequences, losses, damage, output but still they act - just because they have been motivated by some selfish spearhead to do so!
                                I was astounded to see a 6-7 year old kid in a newspaper, setting fire to a police van. I myself being a mother know very well that nothing in the world can let me allow my son to do so. Then what is it that these people aren't afraid of anything? 

And as per the reports, 3 police men have been suspended for firing and may be killing someone! Its very easy to suspend the police men who were on duty and were doing what was the right thing at that moment. But, has anybody even thought about catching and punishing  those who created this mess, who set the cars and other vehicles to fire, who misbehaved with women and made the lives hell of more than 5000 people? I don't know but am sure the answer to this question is a big NO!

While I don't intend to hurt any body's sentiments, I would like to say that if they believed in Quran so much, they should have left the matter in the hands of Allah to take care of the person who did it. What purpose did it serve by doing so much damage? 

I wish Indians will grow up some day and before they do, our politicians do it! 
And the way I and my family have been lucky this time, we remain always! Amen!


  1. Very scary Kiran...I have been reading about it since Saturday morning, and Thank God that all of you came safe out of this madness.

    1. Yes Shailesh. It was sheer luck that we escaped without any damage else the chances were very high for any sort of loss.

  2. Thank God for small mercies.Politicians wearing secular boots care two hoots about ur plight.Forget any help from these ruiners.Only way is forget all isms and impose only one INDIANISM

    1. But when situation like this arises, an individual can't do anything on his own. Its the govt, police who should be taking actions! But they do not have spare time for these unimportant things!

  3. This is scary. Thank god you guys you guys came out of this mess.

  4. Oh my god.. it looks very scary.. thank god that you found good people who helped. Daya

  5. Thank god, nothing happened to you or your family. In Main Stream there is no report of such violence towards those stranded in the NH Instead they are lamenting on the death of 6 people and about Police "inaction". Why do you people in UP vote for Samajwadi Party who is not able to handle such sensitive situation. - A guy from Tamil Nadu.

    1. There have been reports of the violence in North India but my friends in South India had the same impression which you have as the news have been misleading/incomplete.

      Every party has its own disadvantages. We are left with no good option. If you vote X, u face something, if u vote Y, u face something else. Poor We!

  6. Oh It seems very scary story explained by you.. I was also suffered & got stuck in trafic jam and could not reach to my Home (Hapur). It was totally nonsense riot or incident happend that day without knowing anything. mob were just following like sheep or donkey what they do generally.. anyway I liked too your blog. keep it up :)

    1. Its nice to find that you were safe in that ugly riot.

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  9. Next morning when i going to attend my college in pandav nagar ghaziabad
    i see the police station of masuri is totally burned I feel also very scared to see these conditions.