How did Maharana Pratap's mother die

«Heil, Mother India»

We found Fehmeeda in her house, where she was sitting on the floor in a simple room. The morning after the raid, she said, she went to the Indian Army Police base, C.R.P.F., where her son was being held. He told her that he had been beaten. "I begged them to give it back to me, but they wouldn't let anyone talk to them," she said. When Fehmeeda returned the next day, the police told her that Momin had been transferred to the city's central prison. But the guards there said that he had been taken to a prison in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of kilometers away. "It's no use crying, aunty," they told her.

Fehmeeda said she was not told what Momin was accused of. India's anti-terror law allows security forces to detain a Kashmiri resident for up to two years for any reason or no reason. In the three decades that Kashmir openly rebelled, tens of thousands of men have disappeared, many of whom have not returned. "I have to accept that I won't see him again," said Fehmeeda.

Her friends gathered around her in her house while men from the neighborhood stood in front of the open windows. Ayyub sat across from her, their knees touching. While Fehmeeda spoke, some of the men spoke louder than her, and each time Ayyub told them to be quiet: "Don't scold her, Uncle, she has her own problems."

Fehmeeda had started stoically, but gradually lost his composure. Ayyub took her hands and said, “Your son will return to you. God is very great. " Fehmeeda was not comforted. Momin, a construction worker, had provided for all of the family's needs, including medication for a kidney problem. Fehmeeda's story came to a standstill: "I told him not to throw stones, someone took him away, someone was paid ..." Then she began to sob and choke.

Rana Ayyub started crying too. "I can't take it anymore," she said. "This is too much."

Ayyub said goodbye to Fehmeeda and promised to come back with medicine for her kidneys. (She did so a few weeks later.) A premonition fell upon us that we were about to begin something that would last for many years. "I feel it as a Muslim," said Ayyub. "It happens all over India."

We drove in silence for a while. I suggested that maybe it was time for them to leave India - that Muslims had no future there. But Rana Ayyub was going through a notebook. "I'm not going away," she said. «I have to stay. I'll write it all down and tell everyone what happened. "

To the author

Dexter Filkins is a journalist for "The New Yorker" and author of "The Forever War". The book about America's clashes with Islamic fundamentalists received the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. This article was published on December 9, 2019 in “New Yorker” under the title “Blood and Soil in Narendra Modis India”.