A Muslim Auto driver was brutally beaten by a group of Hindu nationalists in the Vasna, Gupta Nagar area of Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district on 14 January.
Ahmed Hussain Sheikh, 24, was transporting three passengers in his auto: two women carrying catering supplies for a wedding, and a man sitting beside the driver’s seat.
Sheikh was transporting his passengers as usual on Sunday night around 9:30 PM. While the passenger seated with the driver, a Hindu sporting a Tilak, accidentally spat the tobacco he was chewing. It landed on one of the men in the Hindutva group standing just behind the auto.
The Hindutva group then stopped the vehicle and started beating Sheikh, even though the Hindu passenger confessed that it was he and not the driver who spat the tobacco outside, and his intention was not to spit on anyone.
The incident turned anti-Muslim when Sheikh was beaten by the group mercilessly and let the Hindu man go away, the other two women also ran away, leaving behind the catering items in the auto.
Some other people allegedly associated with Rashtriya Swayemsewak Sangh also joined in assaulting Sheikh. Collectively, they were at least 20 men.
No bystanders reacted to the incident or reported it to the Vasna police station, which is within walking distance from the place of the incident, according to the eyewitness.
Later he was rescued by a passerby, Rasheed Khan Pathan, as he saw a man being assaulted by a group. He took his motorbike and rescued him from the spot and admitted him to the hospital.
Sheikh has endured severe injuries – visible and internal, with seven stitches above his left eye and a huge bump on his head. He still has severe headaches due to repeated attacks on his head.
Pathan took him to a private hospital, Amina Khatoon Hospital, where doctors asked the victim to inform the police about the incident but repeated calls made by the doctors and the victim’s attendant didn’t receive any response.
Rasheed Khan Pathan, 58, also an eye witness told Maktoob, “I was passing through Vasna police station area and stopped to see that a man was being beaten by the Hindu extremists. I rescued him on my bike and took him to the nearest hospital for treatment. He has endured severe injuries.”
He said, “While he was being assaulted the extremists looted the catering stuff in the auto carried by the passengers. The passengers left it there and ran to save their lives.”
Pathan took Sheikh on his motorcycle and was chased by the assaulters until they reached Juhapura, a Muslim-dominated area, 1km away from the area of the incident.
“We left the vehicle there and somehow reached the hospital in the Juhapura area.
“From there, we made more than 10 calls to the police station, on numbers 100 and 108 but got no response. Finally, the doctors gave him the treatment and he was discharged a day later,” he added.
The family accused the police of not registering their complaint, despite repeated calls and visiting the police station.
Mohammad Qasim, Sheikh’s elder brother told Maktoob, “I called at the police station and also spoke with the DCP, he directed me to the Sub-Inspector. I went to the police station but was reverted saying to come back again as the Station House Officer was not present at the police station.”
He said, “We were informed by Rasheed, the man who rescued him and we are thankful to him. When we reached he was in the hospital.”
However, a police constable at the request of medical staff came to take the attacked survivor’s statement but no complaint has been registered by the police so far, as per the family.
“We are yet to receive the copy of FIR”, said Qasmi.
A local journalist, Sahal Qureshi, who has also reported on the incident told Maktoob that the assaulters were drunk, most of them are associated with Bajrang Dal and RSS and are habitual offenders.
He also said, Guptanagar, where the incident happened is a communally sensitive area and is a hotspot for anti-Muslim violence.
R.D. Makwana, Police Inspector of Vasna Police Station said that he is unaware of the incident.
The officer when told that the video of the victims was surfacing on social media and it happened just outside the police station said, “I will only register a case when I will get to know about the incident.”
“Will see to it if anyone approaches the police station regarding the case,” the officer said before disconnecting the call.