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Iftar of the year

His son Ankit was killed by family members of the Muslim girl he was in love with, but Yashpal Saxena overcame his grief to organise an Iftar party to spread the message of love

Ankit Saxena, 23, was murdered on February 1 this year. He was killed by the family members of a Muslim girl he was in love with in Raghubir Nagar, a locality in West Delhi. Ankit was in a relationship with this Muslim girl and the latter’s family didn’t approve of it. He had to pay with his life. The girl’s father, mother and brother were arrested as suspects.
Yashpal Saxena, 60, is certain that the killer of his only son should pay for this misdeed, but he’s equally certain that he doesn’t want to politicise or communalise the murder of his son. This unfortunate killing of his son should not be used to paint a whole community in communal colour, he feels. And to send across his message of love, in this grave hour when getting cynical about thing is easy, he has hosted an iftar party this week on the narrow lane in front of his one-room apartment.
Large number of locals from both the communities participated in the Iftar to express their solidarity. A banner of Ankit Saxena Trust was fixed on the wall prominently, which carried images of smiling face of Ankit and symbols of various religions to showcase the essential unity between different faiths.
Many of Ankit’s friends and members of his extended family volunteered to organise the event. They were attired in white t-shirts with a circular portrait of Ankit embossed where the top pocket would be, close to the heart. “Awaara Boy” was printed prominently on the back of the t-shirt — he had floated a YouTube channel by this name, which is followed by more than 7,000 people. Clearly, his friends wanted to emphasise the fact that this boy next door believed in the good things of life. It was also to celebrate his life and work.
Carpets were spread out on the road for people to offer prayers. The elaborate menu included dates, fruits like watermelon, bananas and homemade drinks. Chicken biryani was the dish of the evening. Ankit’s friends were hospitable to the guests, serving various delicacies with love and affection. After partaking of the food, a group of people offered namaz.


Many TV channels had gathered there with their paraphernalia. Saxena was seen talking to media, reasserting his message of love and peaceful coexistence between the two biggest communities of the nation. He would often be overwhelmeded and his eyes brim with tears. He was hugging the guests, expressing his gratitude for their support by attending the iftar party.
Ankit was a photographer by profession and who would often get hired for the new craze — pre-wedding shoots. His clients weren’t just from Delhi but from other cities as well. He was the breadwinner of the family. His father was a daily wage labourer till he stopped working as Ankit made enough to support the family. He also did some electrical work, specialising in assembling and repairing of doorbells.
The Saxenas — Yashpal and Kamlesh — moved into this house some 25 years ago before Ankit was born. The three of them lived in a small one-room congested apartment. There’s a double bed, an almirah, a plastic chair in a reasonably clean room, attached is a small kitchen. A large framed picture of Ankit hangs on the front wall.
Lately, Saxena’s health has been indifferent. He had a heart attack less than two years ago. For his father’s comfort, Ankit bought an air-conditioner on installments. Ankit convinced his father to stop working and allow him to take care of the family.
Now the future looks uncertain. The sole breadwinner has become a victim of religious intolerance. Despite this, Saxena is not bitter. He just doesn’t want his fate to be repeated, and says no one should be killed for loving someone. The Iftar is a big message to people at large, especially to the ruling dispensation that love must not breed hatred. “Ankit Saxena Trust will continue to do the events that encourage love between the various faiths and enhance brotherhood in society,” says the brave old gentleman.