‘Sports helped Ikran re­gain con­fi­dence’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Na­tion -

Ikran dreams of be­com­ing a box­ing cham­pion, while his el­der brother Sahil wants to be a doc­tor to ful­fil their fa­ther’s wish

When the girls first came here, they ei­ther dis­played ag­gres­sion or kept to them­selves. Stud­ies, games and other ac­tiv­i­ties even­tu­ally helped them shift their fo­cus, dream for them­selves and cre­ate new goals,” Parveen said.

Ikran is un­recog­nis­able from the shy, ner­vous boy who walked into Madrassa Chacha Nehru in Au­gust last year, 15 days af­ter his fa­ther’s death. Prin­ci­pal Rashid Ali said, “Ikran was very scared. He had night­mares and would wake up scream­ing ‘abba’ ev­ery night. For months some­one had to sleep next to him to com­fort him.” The boy's box­ing coach Aziz now says sports has helped Ikran re­gain con­fi­dence.

For some, though, heal­ing can take much longer. Sar­faraz, who lost his fa­ther Umar Khan af­ter he was shot by cow vig­i­lantes in Al­war district in Novem­ber 2017, still can’t sleep at night. It was these sto­ries of un­speak­able loss that in­spired Mo­ham­mad Amir Min­toee, sec­re­tary of Steps Foun­da­tion, a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, to do some­thing for these chil­dren. Since 2018, he has kept track of fam­i­lies of lynch­ing vic­tims, ap­proach­ing them and ask­ing if they need aid.

The killings them­selves have been fu­elled by sus­pi­cion of cow slaugh­ter, child kid­nap­ping ru­mours or mere thefts. In Au­gust alone, around 150 mob at­tacks were re­ported in In­dia.

“This sense­less vi­o­lence has left fam­i­lies with­out bread­win­ners, chil­dren with­out par­ents. I want to get chil­dren out of that at­mos­phere. Af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing some of them, I was pleased to learn that two schools in Ali­garh were open to re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing them ,” said Min­toee.

Ikran now dreams of be­com­ing a box­ing cham­pion, his older brother Sahil wants to be a doc­tor to ful­fil his fa­ther’s wish. Some­times, they miss their mother — who lives back home in Haryana’s Me­wat — but they are un­equiv­o­cal about not go­ing back. Sahil shud­ders when he re­calls the days fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s mur­der. “But we are safe and happy here,” he said, run­ning back to his class.

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