Junaid, a short documentary made by a group of four student filmmakers from AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, Sarah Rifai, Raza Ansari, Mehtab Shah and Daud Arif, was recently screened at Khudai Khidmatgar, Ghaffar Manzil, Okhla, New Delhi. The screening was organised by the filmmakers in collaboration with Sabka Ghar, a home to promote communal harmony, and dedicated to all those who have been killed in the name of religion, race, caste, and boundaries. A panel discussion followed the screening presided over by the renowned feminist activist and social scientist Kamla Bhasin, and advocate Kabir Dixit.
The film is an attempt to present the untold story around the lynching of 16-year-old Hafiz Junaid. The teenager was brutally stabbed to death on board a train while on his way back home, a day before Eid. A resident of Ballabhgarh, Haryana, Junaid had come to Delhi with his brothers to shop for Eid. The boy was lynched by a bloodthirsty crowd, which falsely suspected him for a beef eater.
The film endeavours to bring to light the untold story of Junaid's barbaric lynching that went completely unnoticed amidst the television news' race for TRPs, and political mileage.
The film opens with graphic images of Junaid's brother writhing in agony while lying on a railway platform in his bloodstained clothes. It ends with the archival footage of a pensive-looking journalist Ravish Kumar (NDTV) lamenting the loss of an innocent life due to the indifference of the co-passengers who chose not to act when it mattered the most. The documentary shows a mother talk about her dead son with tear-filled eyes, and a teacher talking about the tragic death of his sincere and hardworking pupil. What the film doesn't show but makes the viewer feel is the all-pervasive fear and paranoia following the death of Junaid. The film received unanimous applause from all those present at the screening.
Kamla Bhasin congratulated the young filmmakers for their courage for taking up such a sensitive subject for their first film. She also talked about the importance of bridging the divide between people divided on the basis of religion, caste, gender, or race. Kabir Dixit applauded the filmmakers for being true to the subject without losing their sense of objectivity. He also stressed upon the need to ask the right questions at all times. The team of filmmakers thanked everybody and discussed the challenges they faced during the filming of Junaid while emphasising upon the need to show the truth at all costs.
Egged on by the positive response, the young filmmakers now plan to take the film across the country, hoping to raise awareness about unsavoury elements of society who are trying to destroy the social fabric that binds us together.
A version of this article was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.
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