Gujjar family attacked, livestock killed in Samba; IGP says ‘case filed’

Srinagar: A family of Muslim pastoralists in Jammu Division’s Samba district has accused some “local goons” of misbehaving with a woman and also attacking the family members.

Rafaqat Ali’s family of four was beaten up by some unknown men during an argument that had broken out between the two after the unknown men allegedly misbehaved with Ali’s 18-year-old daughter while the family was moving with their livestock along the Sungwali Mandi area.

Amjad Khatana, brother-in-law of Rafaqat, told The Kashmir Walla that “two to three youth had come in a Maruti Swift (car make) and blocked the family’s path.” He alleged that the attack on the family was pre-planned as “the attackers were keeping an eye on them for the past many days “

According to Khatana, the attackers had used racial slurs against the woman, which Ali had objected to. “when she reacted they held her hand and attempted to molest her “

As Ali and his 20-year-old son rushed to “rescue her”, said Khatana, they were attacked by the “local goons” and were instantly joined by a few more men.

Ali was admitted to the Government Medical College hospital in Jammu in an unconscious state. He has since gained consciousness but is still unable to speak, according to Khatana.

Mukesh Singh, Inspector General of Police Jammu while talking to The Kashmir Walla said that a First Information Report (FIR) has been registered into the case and the investigation officer visited the hospital where Ali is admitted, to record his statement.

“Necessary action will be taken and arrest if any will be made only after alleged attackers will be identified by the family,” said Singh.

Ali’s family belongs to the Gujjar-Bakarwal scheduled tribe. The Gujjars and Bakarwals have been increasingly facing discrimination and intimidation in the Jammu region.

Khatana alleged that the attackers had today visited the family and “attempted to set their makeshift house on fire” and “threatened  to leave the area within two or three days.”

They were also threatened against filing a police complaint or speaking to the press, said Khatana. “While family members were in the hospital they attacked their livestock. One sheep was killed and 8-10 are still missing,” he added.

Talib Chaudhary, a political activist, has apprehension that such attacks may increase as the “Forest Rights Act” shall be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir soon, “so they do not want tribals to acquire land in their areas.”

The Act allows forest dwellers and scheduled tribes to hold and live in the forest land. It also gives them the right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce.

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