‘They Beat Us with Sticks’: Molestation Bid, Mob Attack on Tribal Muslim Family in Jammu

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“They beat us with sticks,” said Dilawar. Photo: Special arrangement

The community activists see the attack as part of a general atmosphere of hate prevailing against tribal Muslims in Hindu dominated areas of Jammu region.

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

Dilawar, his father Rafaqat Ali, his mother and his sister were walking behind a herd of sheep and goats when a car came in their way. Three men alighted from it. They walked towards Dilawar’s sister, grabbed her and tried to drag her into the car.

Dilawar and Ali were quick in resistance. They stepped ahead and pushed the men and freed her from their clutches. She ran away towards her mother.

But the three men retaliated; “They beat us with sticks,” said Dilawar, “My sister and mother were also injured in the attack.”

The incident took place in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday evening at around 7:30 PM. A police official in Samba Police station told Clarion India that they have registered a case under section 307 (Attempt to murder) and 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).

The family — Bakarwal, a pastoral Muslim community, that herds cattle and make seasonal journeys, presently lives in Sonwali Mandi village of the district but they originally come from the Larnoo Kokernag area of Kashmir Valley.

Dilawar alleged that the three men called more people to attack them. “First they were three men but then they made a phone call and we saw 50-60 Hindus gathered around us.” Dilawar while recounting the horrific ordeal said he bled from nose and mouth and his father was “beaten so much that he fell unconscious”.

His sister acted smartly — She sneaked away to safety and made a call to her uncle who rushed to the police station.

A police team came to their rescue. They removed an unconscious Ali to a hospital in Samba town where he was rushed to government medical college in Jammu city.

He was admitted in the hospital for two days before he was discharged on Monday morning. “I have been advised to show up for check up after two days,” said Ali who is putting up with his relatives in Jammu.

Dilawar alleged that on Sunday afternoon the attackers again threatened them of burning their huts if “we raise voice against them.” He claimed that some of their livestock is missing as the family got busy in attending Rafaqat at the hospital.

The community activists see the attack as part of a general atmosphere of hate prevailing against tribal Muslims in Hindu dominated areas of the Jammu region.

In 2018 eight-year-old Asifa Bano who was brutally gang raped and murdered belonged to the same Bakarwal community. The ghastly incident had rocked the region as also brought spotlight on the issue of majoritarian violence against Muslim minorities. The Hindu extremist groups including some ministers of the then BJP-PDP government had rallied in support of the rapists exposing the communal hatred towards the tribal Muslims who of late complain that they are facing threats of eviction.

“These things are happening on a routine basis for the last five-six years,” said Guftar Chaudhary, a tribal youth activist in Jammu. “It is obvious that this is not one off incident. Tribal families regularly face threats of eviction.”

Clarion India had reported in September last year about a case of lynching of a Muslim tribal by a gang of goons in Jammu after he had raised objections against harassment of women of his community by members of the gang.

Dilawar too said that it was not the first such incident against the community. He said that a couple of weeks back their neighbours were attacked by local Hindus and in that case the police filed a report and assured that the community “would not face such attacks again.”

Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti termed the incident a “brutal attack”. She urged the police to “look into the matter immediately”.

But the Police at Samba said they have not yet arrested the culprits because they are yet to be identified. “The family does not know who assaulted them,” said SHO Samba. “We have invoked relevant sections as per the allegations but things will become clear with investigations.”

Dilawar said the family does not know the names of the attackers but added can identify them. “They are locals of the village from the Hindu community,” he said.

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