NEW DELHI — Ankit Saxena swayed unsteadily before his knees buckled, a second after his girlfriend’s father had pulled back his hair and slit his throat.
Yashpal Saxena, his father, lunged forward and caught him, but he was helpless. The world around him seemed to slow down. He watched his son dying in freeze frame; his eyes fluttering, his breath haggard, his blood spilling onto the street.
The petite man bundled his son’s muscular frame into a passing electric rickshaw and rushed him to the nearest hospital.
“I did not know whether he was alive. My only thought was that if I can get him to a hospital then he will live. You tell yourself that the doctors will perform a miracle and save him,” Saxena said in a recent conversation with HuffPost India.
23-year-old Ankit, who was in a relationship with a Muslim woman, did not make it alive to the hospital. He was attacked on 8 February 2018 by her family members. They did not want her getting involved with a Hindu. Her father, mother, uncle and brother (a minor) are awaiting trial.
One year on, Saxena and his wife Kamlesh, a soft-spoken couple from West Delhi, are living in agony.
“From class 1 to class 12, I took him to school every morning and went to pick him up every afternoon. I worked day and night so that he could have the things that I could not. Every decision that I made was for him,” Saxena said.
“I had watered this beautiful flower for 23 years and then someone came along and killed it in three seconds,” he said. “You cannot imagine the grief and the rage I felt. I lost control.”
Saxena, however, did not let his emotions push him down the path of hatred.
On the contrary, despite his own anguish, the 60-year-old electrician emerged as an extraordinary voice of reason and calm, even as he came under tremendous pressure to “punish” Muslims.
Soon after his son’s death, he recalled powerful rightwing leaders phoning him and saying, “Danga karan de? (Do you want a communal...