By Arshad Ahmed / Two 

Rahima Begum, 50, had not slept in a long time and had not eaten well because her 25-year-old son Hifzur Rahman had gone missing for the past two weeks. Hifzur was mentally sick and had a habit of wandering out of the house on occasion, but he always returned to his mother.

On 13 August, Rahima was informed by the district police that her son had been brought dead to the district civil hospital and that he had been killed by a Hindu mob on suspicion of stealing cattle in the Hindu-concentrated neighbourhood of Bamungaon in Hojai, over 20 kilometers from his home in Jayantia Basti, a small village in Assam’s Hojai district.

‘I Saw on the Video How They Beat Him’: Kin of Lynching Victim

The family was terrified and distraught when they saw the videos of the mob beating their son. “I saw on the video how they beat him. He kept screaming maa..maa (mother) against the sound of sticks and rods bludgeoning him to death,” she told Two Circles.

“My brother never hurt anyone…loved by all. He would just roam around. He was mentally ill, but they were not,” Hifuzur’s younger brother, Imrul Hussain, remarked as he showed photographs of Hifzur on his phone.

The incident quickly drew the attention of local media, with Muslim rights activists asking that the government bring the “perpetrators to justice.” The police acted swiftly and arrested eight people, one of whom was freed after a brief detention.

Victim Survived by Wife and 8-Year-Old Son

Rahima is now concerned about who will care for Hifzur’s family — his wife, Zaida Begum, and his 8-year-old school-going son Minhaz Alom. “However, Hifzur, despite being mentally ill, would frequently bring home money that locals paid him out of compassion, which he used to at least support his child’s education,” the mother said. “Only God knows what will happen to his wife and son now that he is gone.”

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