Sunday, February 25, 2024

Karnataka: Elderly blind Muslim allegedly assaulted, forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”

Photo: Special arrangements

In another hate crime that unfolded in Karnataka’s Gangavathi, a blind Muslim man was brutally attacked by individuals allegedly associated with Hindutva groups for refusing to chant “Jai Shri Ram.”

Hussain Sahab, a respected local figure in Gangavathi town, raises funds from local mosques to meet his daily needs. On the night of November 24th, he returned to Gangavathi from Hospet, a city 33 km away, where he had gone to raise funds from the mosque for his sustenance.

Upon reaching Gangavathi at around 3 am on November 25, Hussain Sahab, being visually impaired, usually relies on an auto-rickshaw to reach his home. However, he contemplated walking due to the steep fare of 150 rupees. Hearing a scooter approaching, he sought a lift, but what followed was a horrific incident of violence.

The individuals on the scooter forcefully pulled Hussain Sahab onto it, subjecting him to verbal abuse and Islamophobic comments. According to Hussain Sahab, the assailants, aged between 25 and 30, even addressed each other as “appi” (bro in local slang).

“They started hitting me. Pulled my beard and forced me to chant Jai Shri Ram. In pain, I called out to Allah, saying Allah Hu Akbar, to which they responded with derogatory language and questioned the efficacy of Allah in saving me (Nin Allah ninanna bachayisalu baralla/Your Allah will not come to help you)” Hussain Sahab told Maktoob.

“I was taken to a remote area on the outskirts of the city. The assailants physically assaulted me. They forcefully pushed me to the ground and the person on the pillion held my legs up while the rider drove the scooter for some distance causing severe injuries to my back. Attempts to cut off my beard with a broken glass bottle proved futile, leading them to burn it using a matchstick while forcing him to chant Jai Shri Ram,” Hussain added.

This horrifying ordeal persisted for almost an hour until a group of migrant shepherds, alerted by the commotion and the barking of nearby dogs, came to Hussain Sahab’s rescue. The attackers fled when they saw help arriving, instructing Hussain Sahab to shave off his beard and meet them near a nearby girls’ college.

The rescuing group provided first aid, water, and tea to Hussain Sahab, who his daughter later picked up after news reached her through the shepherds.

Neither Hussain Sahab nor his daughter complained or informed anyone about the incident out of fear.

Upon receiving the news, from the auto driver who had picked up Hussain Sahab, the officials from the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) visited, admitted him to the hospital due to breathing difficulties from chest beatings, and attempted to file an FIR at the Gangavathi Town police station.

However, the police refused, redirecting them to the rural police station. As per the Town police station, the area (Siddikere) where the attack occurred falls under the jurisdiction of the rural police station. However, the rural police station refused to receive the complaint making the same excuse.

Members of the SDPI alleged a lack of cooperation from the police in handling the situation.

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