India: The Killing of Mohammad Azeem in Delhi’s Malviyanagar

A Fact Finding Report by CPI(ML), CPIM and AISA Team.
Mohammad Azeem, an eight years old boy was beaten to death allegedly by a group of minor boys on 25th October in Malviya Nagar area. 8 year old Azeem was studying at the Jamia Faridiya Madrasa located in Malviya Nagar area. He was one of those 70 students at the Madrasa who come to study from very poor backgrounds. The news of the death of Azeem comes in the backdrop of numerous incidents of mob lynching and anti-Muslim hate mongering in the country orchestrated by the ruling party BJP and RSS networks. A CPI(ML), CPI(M), AIDWA and AISA team consisting of Comrade Sehba, Sucheta, Kawalpreet, Maimoona Molha, Kavita Sharma, Subir Mukherjee, Somdutt Sharma, Abdul Mannan Siddiqui and Abu Maaz visited the Madrasa where Azeem stayed and the adjacent Valmiki colony on 26 October.

The team talked to some children who are studying at the Madrasa. Some of them said that they were witness to the incident that took Azeem’s life. According to their account, a few children from the Madrasa were playing at the old Kabristan adjacent to the Madrasa on 25 October morning. Some children from the adjacent JJ Colony or the Valmiki Colony were playing at the open space in front of the Kabristan. It is then that the Madrasa children heard fire crackers being burst at the place. When they went to ask the other group to stop bursting fire crackers, a fight broke out between the two groups. Azeem was thrown at a parked motorcycle and he collapsed immediately. The group of boys who hit Azeem resulting in his death are all minors. According to the information that we collected from the area the age of the boys who have been held in connection with Azeem’s killing range between 11 to 13 years. But the boys who study at the Madrasa also informed us that some adults were standing at the site of the scuffle and they did nothing to stop the attack.
The killing of Azeem has a history of hate and tension concerning the Madrasa. The Imam of the Madrasa, other residents and muslims from nearby areas present at the spot told us that there have been several incidents of nuisance being created to harass, disturb and provoke people residing in the Madrasa. There have been several instances when fire crackers have been thrown at the space near the Madrasa, and liquor bottles have been found in the open space. The residents of the Madrasa have complained about these incidents to the police several times in the past. But no action has been taken by the police to enquire into and stop such incidents aimed at harassing the residents of the Madrasa. The team was also informed that a jhuggi near the Madrasa where food for the Madrasa kids used to be cooked was burnt down last year. This incident, as told by Madrasa residents, was reported by newspapers and the Delhi Police was well informed about it. There has been a dispute over the open space adjacent to the Madrasa. The Jamia Faridiya Madrasa is an old Madrasa established in 1988 as told by the Imam. This open space is a property of the Waqf Board and thus belongs to the Madrasa. But this space has been used for years by the residents of the Valmiki colony as well. Children of the colony play at the ground and a narrow road that connects the Madrasa with the adjacent colony is used by the local people to pass through. The Madrasa residents have demanded several times that a boundary wall be made to separate the plot that belongs to the Madrasa. In spite of such tensions in the area surrounding the Madrasa and dispute over the plot, the government and the police have done nothing to resolve the issue and let hatred towards Madrasa residents grow.
The team also visited the adjacent Valmiki colony. Daily wage labourers from mainly the Valmiki community reside in the area. The Valmiki colony is an area of jhuggis and narrow and dark lanes. The residents of the colony were talking about the death of Azeem when the visit took place. When the team members talked to the residents of the colony they were told that the dispute over the land has been dragging on for a long time. They shared that kids from their colony play at the disputed space and they use the path passing through the Madrasa to go outside.
It is unfortunate and condemnable that the Delhi Police and the Government have done nothing to address the complaint of the Madrasa residents and resolve the dispute over the land. In a highly communalized atmosphere in the country, when everyday hatred is spewed against Muslims by the ruling party, and fake propaganda is spread about Madrasas by the RSS network, the Delhi police has let the atmosphere of hatred grow. The incident that led to the death of Azeem not only concerns a dispute over land, but also growing stereotyping and stigmatization of Madrasa students. The apathy of those in power has resulted in the death of an 8 year old boy from a poor Muslim family from Mewat whose parents feed their family by working for a daily wage.
The team demands–
(i) The Delhi Police officials responsible for neglecting complaints by Madrasa residents for so long should be punished.
(ii) The land dispute concerning the open space adjacent to the Madrasa should be speedily resolved. The concerned land should be recognized as land of the Waqf board.
(iii) Proper playground for children and road for communication from the JJ/Valmiki Colony should be built.
The team also asserted the need to collectively resist any attempt to further fan communal tension by the saffron brigade by pitting one community against another in the wake of this incident.

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