Mohammad Ataullah, a 35 year old resident of Shera village in Gujarat’s Bharuch district, was attacked by a Hindu mob when he was driving back home after work on Tuesday.
A group of at least nine Hindutva men stone pelted the Muslim man’s car, thrashed and forced him to chant Jai Shree Ram in Chhabanpur bridge, Godra.
An FIR was registered by Ataullah in A Division Police Station in Godhra against the assailants. However, now a counter-FIR has been charged against Ataullah.
“I’m the victim and they are presenting me as the criminal now. I can’t move my body and in this condition, they have come to arrest me,” Muhammed Ataullah said to Maktoob.
Speaking to Maktoob, Ataullah who runs a motorcycle repair shop said that his car was stopped by Hindutva assailants when he was returning to home after his work.
“A car was stopped right behind my car. 3-4 men came out and started beating me,” he said.
Ataullah was hit on the head and punched in face. “They pulled my beard. They abused me and called me a atankwadi [terrorist],” he alleged.
Ataullah also said that he was forced to chant Jai Shree Ram. “When I refused, one of them went to the car, got a revolver and attacked me with the revolver’s butt. He then pointed the revolver to my head and threatened to me if I will not say “Jai Shree Ram”, he would kill me. He shouted that I don’t have the right to stay here [in India] and that I eat here and live here and don’t chant Jai Shree Ram.”
The hate crime survivor has been admitted for three days in Govt Civil Hospital, Godhra. He has an injury to the head and another over his right foot which has been bandaged.
“I’ve been lying in the hospital for three days now. They pressurised us to take back the case. We did not. We complained to SP and police station regarding this. Now they have filed a counter-FIR against me,” Ataullah said to Maktoob via a video call while lying on a hospital bed.
Maktoob reached out to the doctor who treated Ataullah at the hospital but received no response.
Mohammed Ilyas (40), cousin of Ataullah said that the police have arrested three people in the case so far. “I’m afraid they will be let off soon. One of them is a nephew of a local BJP leader,” he said.
When asked about the names of the BJP leader and the attackers, Ilyas refused to answer fearing harm from the associates and family of the attackers.
Ataullah’s family alleged that they have not been provided with a copy of the FIR.
The family also said that the police hurled communal slurs at them.
“DySP [Deputy Superintendent of Police], Khatana, came to the hospital. He threw communal slurs at us. He called us “mulle” and abused us. We called the SP [Superintendent of Police] and told her about this.” said Ilyas.
A counter-FIR has been filed in the incident by associates of the attackers against Ataullah.
Maktoob reached out to SP Neena Patil over a phone call. She said: “We have registered an FIR and a counter-FIR has also been registered at A Division Police Station. There was some scuffle between both the parties due to overtaking of vehicles. It is in a CCTV footage. And we have registered accordingly whatever has been briefed by the complainant.”
When asked for comment on the family’s allegations of anti-Muslim slurs directed at them by DySP Khatana, SP Neena Patil said, “How can a DySP rank officer say this. All leaders were there… Muslim leaders were there.”
Soon after, the call was dropped by Patil.
According to Amir Alam (60), father of Ataullah, “it was like a lynching.”
“They attacked my son out of nowhere. He did not know them. They did not know him. My son is the only earning member in the family. They are arresting him for something he did not do. I do not know how we will survive through this,” Khan said.
Ataullah is the sole earning member of his family which comprises his wife, four children; one daughter and three sons, all aged between 2-10 years, and father and mother.
Arbab Ali is an Independent Journalist based in Delhi. He tweets and posts with @arbabali_jmi