On Thursday night two Muslim men from the Gujjar community were brutally attacked by cow vigilantes in Gharota village of Bhilwara Tehsil, Jammu. The victims, identified as Muhammad Siddique and Mir Hussain are hospitalised.
The victims were relentlessly beaten by 15 – 20 Hindu militant groups who posted videos of assault on social media. Videos of the duo were widely circulated on social media handles portraying them as cow slaughterers.
Siddique and his cousin were on their way back home from the fields along with a pair of oxen that they had bought four or five days ago from a neighbouring village.
The labourers alleged that they had stopped near the stream to quench the thirst of their animals when a mob surrounded them and accused them of cow slaughtering. Sharp-edged knives were forced into their hands.
“They had laid a trap within the area. It was dark outside so we didn’t notice them. We were only half a kilometre away when I was hit by something sharp on the head. Suddenly a group of people jumped on us and ruthlessly beaten us with lathis and stones,” 45-year-old Muhammad Siddique told The Wire.
Speaking to the Kashmiriyat, a family member of the victims said that the cousins are the residents of the identical village as those men and are acquainted with them. They pleaded to be left alone but the mob did not care who they were and continued kicking, slapping and punching all at once.
The victims were admitted to Government Medical College, Jammu. Meanwhile, an FIR was filed at PS Gharota in Jammu. The Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested the main culprit and registered an attempt to murder case against all the attackers.
The horrific incident shook the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, with political groups and young activists of the Gujjar and Bakerwal community responding angrily on Twitter demanding strict action against all those involved in the attack.
In response to the incident, Zahid Choudhary, state president of Jammu Kashmir Gujjar Bakerwal Youth Welfare Committee wrote on Twitter, “Another incident of mob lynching repeated in Jammu, two Gujjars were badly beaten by RSS goons in Garhote area of Tehsil Balwal of dist Jammu, when they were returning back from their fields with cattle as the govt is responsible because no action is taken by police.”
“This is highly condemnable act. Gujjar community of Jammu are soft targets by the goons. Post abrogation of art 370, every other day they are brutally attacked, and women are being molested and nobody is listening,” reacted Saima Chowdhary, a Gujjar activist.
“Two Gujjar beaten badly by goons at village Bhagani in the jurisdiction of PS Gharota of district Jammu. They were going home along with their two ox on the way they were badly beaten & are now admitted at GMC Jammu,” Guftar Ahmed Chowdary wrote responding to the attack.
Congress leader and former MLA Surankote Choudhary Muhmmad Akram also asked Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to ensure the safety of Gujjars in the region.
Series of attacks
In April 2017, five members of a nomadic family were attacked by the cow vigilantes when they were travelling with their livestock in the Reason district of Jammu
In 2020, a man and his nephew were attacked in the same district after the former’s son drove away a cow that was grazing in their field.
According to the 104-page report by The Human Rights Watch, the so-called cow protection groups have killed at least 44 people over the last three years and have often received support from the police and Hindu nationalist politicians. The report further stated that 36 out of 44 were members of the Muslim minority.