Varanasi: When 8-year-old Mohammad Sageer stepped out of his home to play with friends on 20 December, little did his family know that it would be the last time they would see him.
Sageer was killed in a stampede that ensued when police started lathi-charging people agitating against the Citizenship Act in Varanasi’s Bajardiha. He was caught in the crowd that ran amok while trying to escape the police lathis.
“He was playing right outside the home with his cycle. We have no idea when he went to the main road,” his grandmother Shehnaz Akhtar told ThePrint.
At around 6 pm that day, when Akhtar went out to call Sageer back home, she realised he was nowhere around. That’s when panic struck, Akhtar said.
Sageer’s father, Mohammad Vakil, told ThePrint he only found out about the incident after he returned home from work at 9.30 pm.
“Someone showed me a picture on their phone of my son lying on the ground. That’s when I rushed to the (Banaras Hindu University) trauma centre,” he said. But when he reached there, the doctors told him Sageer had died.
The family is awaiting Sageer’s post-mortem report.
‘Why do they need a post-mortem report?’
Vakil says when he got his son’s body, the administration tried to rush his burial.
Varanasi District Magistrate (DM) Kaushal Raj Singh wondered why a post-mortem report was required.
“Why do they need the post-mortem report? We have accepted he died in the stampede. So many eyewitnesses saw he died in the stampede. Then what’s the need for a report?” Singh told ThePrint.
The DM added that a post-mortem was conducted but refused to explain why the report hadn’t been given to the family yet. He also said the burial was rushed to maintain peace.
“The body would either be buried that very day or four days later. But it has to be buried,” Singh said. “The family displayed great understanding when they agreed to bury the body in a couple of hours to maintain harmony in the area.”
Vakil, who earns a living by cooking at several households, went back to his job a couple of days after Sageer’s death. “Working-class people can’t take time off to mourn,” he said.