'My mother tried to drag us away but they chased us'
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One of the two epicentres of violence on Sunday in Muzaffarnagar district, a part of Kutba village, has turned into ghost village. Rioters armed with guns, knives and petrol bombs ambushed residents Sunday morning and left three dead and at least eight injured besides several torched buildings including a masjid.
Shamshad Khan and his family were attempting to flee the village anticipating just this when they were waylaid. Shamshad was bludgeoned to death, his wife Taurik is in critical condition at the Muzaffarnagar civil hospital and their two children and nephews suffered serious head wounds.
Khan's six-year-old son refuses to leave his mother's side while his three-year-old brother and two nephews of the same age lay huddled together on bed next to her.
In halting words, he describes what befell his family. "We were near the bridge on the way to Dharmpur to my uncle's house when a gang of men attacked us. They hit my father on the head with an iron rod and my mother tried to drag us away. But they chased us and hit us all," he said.
According to Khan's son, a passing police jeep thwarted any attempts of further violence. "A police jeep came and the men ran away. We were then brought to this hospital," Khan's son said.
"They were brought to the hospital in the morning with serious injuries. Shamshad succumbed and Taurik underwent surgery. She is in critical condition. They did not even spare the children," said Jamshed Ali, who was in the hospital when Shamshad and his family were brought in and is now looking after them.
By Sunday evening, violence in Kutba was quelled but only after sustained and combined efforts of the police, CRPF, PAC and Army. A CRPF officer posted at the village said, "The attackers came from the fields around the village. They targeted a particular community and flung petrol bombs and fired bullets. Though we returned fire, our priority was to get people out of the village. We moved more than 150 people from here to a police station."