Two days after he was attacked, allegedly by some gau rakshaks, Lal Hussain, 70, still doesn’t know why he was targeted. Bleeding from injuries on the head and legs, he was thrown into a drain, and left for dead. Till some people saw him lying unconscious, about half-an-hour later, and took him home. Hussain, a nomadic Gujjar, says he doesn’t have any cows, only two buffaloes. He had some sheep and goats, but he sold these about a fortnight ago for Rs 1.5 lakh. In fact, on Saturday, he was on his way to the Jammu and Kashmir Bank’s branch at Bakori, in Rajouri district, to deposit the money when he was attacked.
“They took away the bag which had the cash, my cellphone, and even my shawl before throwing me in the drain,’’ says Hussain, speaking to The Indian Express from his hospital bed at the state government-run district hospital in Rajouri. His younger son, Mohammad Farooq, says Hussain’s only fault was that he was walking behind a youth who had a cow with him. The attackers may have thought the cow was his, he says.
Hussain says he left home, in Gundha village, about 100 kilometres from Rajouri, at about 4 am on Saturday in view of the long journey ahead of him — 20 km on foot to Khawas, and another 40 km by bus to Bakori. “I had walked about eight kilometres when I noticed a youth with a cow… I started walking faster to meet him, but some people suddenly came from behind the bushes and started beating me with sticks… I fell unconscious,’’ he says.
From the conversation of his attackers, says Hussain, he gathered that they were gau rakshaks who thought he was accompanying the youth.
One person, Kuldip Raj of Gundha village, has been arrested. Nearly a dozen others were involved in the assault and efforts are on to identify them, says Budhal SHO Mohammad Jahangeer.
Hussain was first taken to the nearest government-run hospital at Sunderbani, from where he was referred to the Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital in Jammu. He was admitted in the emergency ward there, as MLC (Medico Legal Case) No. 5949(A).
But, says Hussain, after the doctor on duty got his X-ray done, nobody attended to him. So he returned to Rajouri, carrying all the hospital files and X-rays with him. “I saw three-four patients dying at the GMC Jammu Hospital during the three hours that I was there and got scared,’’ says Hussain.
According to the GMC Hospital records, Hussain had “lacerated wounds over the scalp, both legs, skull and right elbow, besides bruises on the scalp and back”. Doctors at the Rajouri hospital, which doesn’t have specialised facilities, say Hussain needs to be sent to GMC Hospital, but he doesn’t want to go.
At the GMC Hospital, neither the doctors or the police are able to explain how Hussain left without their knowledge — a patient marked as “MLC” cannot leave the hospital without permission. Medical Superintendent Dr Ramesh Gupta said the doctor on duty should have reported the matter to the police. But no complaint has been lodged with the GMC police post so far.
Hussain is the second Gujjar to be attacked by alleged gau rakshaks in Jammu region this year. In April, a Gujjar family, including women and children, were attacked near Pouni, in Reasi district, when they were transporting bovines, although they had a valid permit.