Surviving a Mob Photograph: Suresh K. Pandey

The fields of Madapur–Mustafabad fragment into the bright colours of mustard, tall sugarcane plants and lush wheat crops. Samaydeen’s glistening face, covered with thick, white beard blends seamlessly into this tranquil rural landscape in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district.

More than four years ago, however, this site witnessed a brutal mob lynching in broad daylight. “They thrashed me so badly I had no hope of coming out alive. It was kudrat ka karishma (a miracle of sorts),” says Samaydeen, recalling the horror.

On June 16, 2018, Samaydeen, a farmer, was gathering fodder for cattle in his fields when he noticed a man, later identified as Qasim, who was being chased by a mob from neighbouring Bajhera Khurd village, headed towards him. They were thrashing Qasim mercilessly. Samaydeen tried to intervene. “I asked why were they beating him? What was the matter? They screamed back, ‘This man slaughters cows’,” recounts Samaydeen. The mob did not appreciate his intervention and assaulted him as well with lathis, kicks and punches, while throwing communal slurs at him. They pulled at his beard.