Srinagar: A group of cow vigilantes attacked and injured a 48-year-old shepherd in a remote village in Jammu and Kashmir after his son drove a few cows away from their pastureland.
Mohammad Asghar was beaten up by nearly 20-strong mob in the Garri Gabbar village. He received serious injuries and is currently under treatment at a hospital. The incident occurred a few days ago when cows allegedly strayed into Asgar’s fields and started eating and damaging his crop.
Asghar’s son drove the animals away from the field but, according to the mob, one cow received injuries on the back. This angered the community members and a headman of the village asked Asghar to report to an uphill village for a meeting.
Malik Abbas, an activist, told News 18 that when Asgar and his cousin Javeed arrived for the meeting, they were pounced upon by dozens of cow vigilantes and thrashed.
Now, an alleged video of Asghar being beaten up by a large number of people has gone viral. Senior People's Democratic Party leader Nayeem Akthar along with Guftar Ahmad, an influential tribal leader from Jammu, have asked police to investigate the case.
Shocked to see this video of Reasi where one Mohd Asger R/o Gahri of Arnas was beaten up by some hate-mongers today. Request @JmuKmrPolice, @DCReasi1 to kindly take note of this matter. Those who are taking law in hands should be behind bars @islahmufti @ShujaUH @rifatabdullahh pic.twitter.com/Tu02rO5OZZ— Guftar Ahmed (گفتار احمد) (@GuftarAhmedCh) August 15, 2020
Will the government please come out with a response? Has any action been taken as it appears that someone in Khaki uniform was on spot? https://t.co/J2VFACXDMd— Naeem Akhtar (@shangpal) August 16, 2020
The video shows cow vigilantes raising objectionable slogans like, `Desh Ke Gadroon Ko… Goli Maroo sa*** Ko’, as they constantly hit Asgar on the head and body in full public view. A cop tries to intervene but not before Asghar's shirt is torn and he receives multiple injuries. He lies there gasping in pain while the cop urges the mob to stop.
“More than 60 people beat him with sticks and bare hands. His condition is very bad. You cannot imagine what he has gone through,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, Asgar’s brother.
Rashmi Wazir, SSP Reasi, said police have registered two FIRs. In one, they have booked Asgar’s son for allegedly hurting the sentiments of a community by injuring a cow with a sharp-edged object, and in another, a case has been filed against people who attacked Asgar.
“It was after I persisted and talked to higher-ups that they lodged an FIR against the people who attacked Asgar,” said Abaas Ali, a local tribal activist.
Abbas said Asghar's son is only 16 years old and a case has been slapped against him. ''Why was the case not slapped on first day? Why now? The counter FIR filed by the majority community is based on a blatant lie,'' he said.
SSP Wazir said some community members lodged a complaint in the police station after a cow was hit with a sharp-edged weapon.
“We registered a case under prevention of Animal Cruelty Act. It was not as if a stone was thrown. It was a cut mark. She was found in a condition where somebody had deliberately caused her injury with a sharp-edged weapon.
Wazir said there was another case registered against people who took the law into their hands and beat up the father of the accused. It is a far off area. Police rushed to the spot and brought situation under control,'' she said, adding that she has given directions to make arrests as well.
She said situation has been brought to normal after police spoke to the elders in the village. ''There is no tension in the area now.''
This is not the first incident where gau rakshaks have beaten up marginalised Gujjar community members. In April 2017, a 70-year-old Gujjar man and his family were beaten up and his tin shed smashed by a mob after he was accused of smuggling animals.
Meanwhile, police have taken cognizance of another incident in Jammu where a seemingly spiritual leader has made derogatory remarks against a particular religion.