Jammu and Kashmir: 11 arrested after attack on nomadic families

Three days after an unruly mob allegedly attacked three nomadic Bakerwal families including women and children in Reasi district suspecting them to be cattle smugglers, Jammu Kashmir Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested 11 assailants in the matter.

Pointing out that affiliation of arrested people with any organization was yet to be ascertained, Inspector General of Police for Jammu zone, SD Singh Jamwal said they happened to be migrants having come to Pouni from their native places in the wake of militant violence after mid 1990s. An advisory has also been issued to all the district SPs, SHOs of police stations and incharge of police posts to ensure protection and facilitate movement of nomads from plains to higher reaches which is a routing at this time every year.

Those arrested have been identified as Balbir singh, Onkar, Sujivan Singh, Satpaul, Jagdev Singh, Lal Singh, Sunil Singh, Rakesh kumar, Shankar Singh, Bhagwan Dass, and Surinder Singh (all in the age group of 18-50 years). However, none of them has any criminal past, IGP said.

Meanwhile, four of the victims too have been booked as they were not carrying any permission from Deputy Commissioner, Reasi, for carrying their cattle from Reasi to Inshan in Kishtwar district. When his attention was drawn to the fact that they were carrying cattle on foot through forests and they had permission of forest department for the purpose, Singh said that they required permission of Deputy Commissioner as well.

However, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Reasi Babu Ram said that one needed a movement permit issued by Deputy Commissioner only in case one is transporting cattle from place to another in a vehicle. In case of one carrying cattle on foot then one needed only a Forest Department’s permission which the victims had, he added.

An eight-year-old girl and two women were among five nomadic Bakerwals were injured when an unruly mob comprising Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists allegedly attacked them at Zero Morh near Talwara on Thursday evening when they, along with their cattle herd, were moving from the plains of Reasi to highland pastures in Kishtwar district.

The attack came as assailants mistook the nomads as cattle smugglers as they were only carrying 12 cows and four calves, said Reasi district SP Tahir Bhat. Pointing out that movement of nomads along with cattle from plains to higher reaches at the onset of summer is a normal practice, he said the victims had, however, sent their sheep, goat and horses along with an advance party towards Inshan leaving only cows and calves with them.

Meanwhile, IGP said that an advisory has been issued to all the district police chiefs, SHOs of police stations and incharge of police posts to ensure protection and facilitate movement of nomads along with their cattle from their respective areas. “They have also been asked to advise them move during the day to avoid recurrence of such incidents,” he said, pointing out that victims in Reasi also were moving during late evening.

Meanwhile, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Chowdhary Zulfikar Ali termed the attack on nomadic Bakerwals as “Gunda Gardi” and said that such cow vigilantism will not be acceptable in the state. Reacting to the incident in which five members of a nomadic family, including an eight year old girl, were injured, the minister said that Gujjars and Bakerwals are “real Gaw Rakshaks as they are dependent on livestock”. He also talked to senior police officers and asked them to take the matter seriously.

Pointing out that some people are hell bent on creating communal tension in the state, he said that such acts must be discourages by one and all and such miscreants booked under law. The government allow attempts by such elements to destablise the state which is already facing trouble, he added.

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