They are both from same village, aged about 50. They are both poor. They supported each other through thick and thin. They celebrate each other’s festivals together too.
They have been voting in the elections as Indians since time immemorial for various governments and have seen various ups and downs.
One fine day, the government they voted for says the country is not performing well on unemployment, protection against women, the economy, etc, and says it is all due to foreigners coming from abroad and depleting our resources.
The government identifies 1.9 million people who don’t have proper documents. They start putting them, a mixture of both Hindus (0.7 million) and Muslims (1.2 million) in detention centres. Both Ashok and Akbar agree that it’s weird but okay. It doesn’t affect them as they don’t live in a border state.
The government then says actually now we will extend this to the entire country, and there is no need to worry as long as you are a Hindu. They then pass a legislation for this.
Both Ashok and Akbar think about their future and have this conversation.
Akbar – ‘We both don’t have birth certificates and have forgotten about the records of our parents. PAN and Aadhar card won’t work according to the home minister as proof.
I am afraid that as we both don’t have documents we will be put in detention centres.’
Ashok – ‘Yeah that’s true but I will come out as I am a Hindu and can claim refugee status due to this new legislation.’
Akbar – ‘ I will be locked up in a detention centre because I cannot prove my citizenship.’
Ashok – ‘Surely you can go to the High Court and the Supreme Court though?’
Akbar – ‘You think I will have the money or resources to do that from the comforts of a detention centre?’
Ashok – ‘ Yeah that’s messy, we know how well detention centres have worked in the past in some other developed countries like Germany, USA and Australia for human rights. This in a country like India with our infamous legal system, I cannot imagine what you will have to go through.’
Akbar – ‘What do you think we should do?’
Akhok – ‘We cannot let this happen. Let’s go and protest!’
Akbar – ‘I am not sure if it’s a good idea, particularly under this government?’
Ashok – ‘Don’t worry, the right to protest is a legal right and we are still a democracy.’
Akbar – ‘Sure, if you say so.’
Ashok and Akbar with his grandson aged 8 who he was babysitting for the day then joined the peaceful protests against the government.
Both Akbar and his grandson are shot dead in the protests because they could be identified by ‘their clothes’
Ashok is heart-broken and kills himself as he persuaded his friend to protest.
Sorry, there are no happy endings to stories set in a fascist state.