‘Sports helped Ikran regain confidence’
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.