Kiran Devi told the reporter that Prasad told him that since his community had little strength in the village, tying rakhis was the best measure to ensure their safety.
Kiran Devi said she did not want to participate but was forced to do so under pressure from Prasad and his followers.
Kiran Devi told the reporter, “The MP met me. She said that the incident had defiled the whole village and that I should cooperate to restore peace. I told him, see Didi, we are not slandering all Sirma or the whole Muslim community. I’m only trying to get those who have wronged me and my daughters to book. And they must be punished.
“A little later, I learned that the MLA had organized a meeting of villagers, to which I was summoned. When I went there, she asked the crowd who thought the girls were their sister. Everyone said they did. Then someone suggested that the bond between a brother and a sister is sacred and unbreakable, and must be forged with a rakhi. So rakhis were bought, and my daughters and I had to tie up the men rakhis.”
When the reporter asked if she did it with her heart, Kiran Devi replied, “No, I did it under duress. This festival is a Hindu community festival. How can we start a new tradition?
She continued, “Until now, we have never heard of Muslims observing Rakshabandhan. Why now? The festival rituals are different. There is a muhurat (auspicious time) for this and it is observed only on Purnima day of Saawan month. There is a tilak application ceremony and an exchange of sweets. What happened that day was nothing but a sham.
Kunal Singh told this correspondent by telephone that the local media, including him, also did not approve of the event and raised the question at national scale.
He said that as of August 25, all six defendants had been arrested. Of the six, three had surrendered to the police.
Calls made to Badkagaon police on August 26 prior to the publication of this report went unanswered.
What Kiran Devi told Swarajya
This correspondent called Kiran Devi on August 26 after taking his number from reporter Kunal.
She says that after the incident, her family is not only in mortal danger, but also lost their only sources of income.
She said she works with the local Mahila Mandal, who is part of the samiti panchayat, and earns Rs 2,000 per month. His two daughters supplement the income by giving private lessons to school children.
Besides the two daughters, Kiran Devi has a 12-year-old son. She said her husband died of cancer in 2019.
“We were already in a deep financial crisis. My husband’s medical treatment cost us dearly, but it didn’t save him. Now we are making ends meet,” she said.
She said it is likely that the neighbors will no longer send their children to them for school lessons.
She said her family belonged to Teli jaati, who comes from the backward castes of the village.
The Muslim residents are either upper-caste Khan or lower-caste Ansari, she said. “The crowd that came to my house was made up of Khans. Ours is one of the few families living among a thousand Muslim families,” she said.
“It has always been difficult for us. Now it got worse.