The photo of Mohd Aamir Khan giving a shoulder of support and empathy to Ankit Saxena’s grieving father Yashpal Saxena who breaks down during a meeting with the Karwan-E-Mohabbat is an iconic photo for what it represents, the idea of India united in diversity.
Mohd Aamir Khan was 18 year old in 1998 when he was suddenly picked up by plain dress police, taken to a torture room, beaten and tortured till he succumbed and signed some blank papers. A week later he was produced in Court, as an accused in 19 cases of terrorism. Framed as a terrorist at 18, Aamir spent fourteen years in jail even as the trials ran and one by one all but two of the false cases fell apart. In Jan 2012 Aamir was acquitted in 17 cases, two remains pending. The National Human Rights Council in it’s Relief Order granting Rs. 5 lacs as monetary relief, said this about the extent of the harm caused to Aamir by these false cases:
The materials on record not only reflects the excesses committed by the concerned police authorities but it also depicts the silent incarceration suffered by the victim. The fact is the victim had to spend 14 years long incarceration in the prison for no reason violating his human rights.
Yashpal Saxena is the father of Amit Saxena. On 1 February around 8.30 pm in the middle of a busy road few metres away from their home, Yashpal Saxena’s only son, 23-year-old Ankit was brutally murdered by four members of a Muslim family. Some considered it an honour killing for the alleged love affair between the family’s daughter Shehzadi and Ankit, but right-wing Hindutva groups were quick to view the crime through the prism of Hindu khatre mein hai (Hindus are in danger) and wanted to make it an excuse to vilify Muslim community. Ankit’s family firmly held their ground refusing to make it a communal issue, a brave act that made them heroes.
Mohd Aamir lost 14 prime years of his life in jail, his dreams aspirations destroyed because he was a Muslim. Yashpal lost his only son because he was a Hindu who fell in love with a Muslim girl. The two met each other when Karwan e Mohabbat went to meet the Saxena family as part of it’s journey of love and atonement. This moment of solidarity, empathy love and kindness between the two represents the real India.
I am proud to have captured this moment.