‘They want to occupy our land and police is helping them’
‘They are backed by RSS and Shiv Sena’
Ramban: In yet another incident of violence against Muslims in the Jammu region, a group of men belonging to the Hindu community physically assaulted a nomadic family leaving several of them injured.
The incident took place in Ladadhar area of Kri village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Samba district on August 10.
One of the family members told Free Press Kashmir that around two dozen men from the Gaddi (Hindu) community began rearing their cattle outside the Gujjar-Bakerwal sheds provoking the community to clash.
However, when the Gujjars objected, the furious Gaddi mob physically assaulted around seven persons including women of the Gujjar community.
“This is happening for over a month now,” said Bashir Ahmed, whose nephew was also injured in the “communal attack”.
The community is residing on the land for centuries now; however, some people from Hindu Community, who Bashir said, are backed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena, are hell-bent on the eviction of Muslim nomads from the area.
Last month, members from the Gujjar-Bakerwal community approached Deputy Commissioner Ramban and sought a proper investigation into the matter and action against the culprits for “inciting violence”.
Instead of taking action against the community for violence, the family member said: “Deputy Commissioner sent personnel from Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Special Operation Group (SoG) and army to escort the Gaddis that they can rear their cattle on our area”.
“Whenever Gaddis come and we object, the army and police force us to remain silent,” Bashir said, terming the administration’s move “biased and unfair”.
He said men from Gaddi community belong to different districts like Ramban, Reasi, and Udhampur but deliberately come to this site.
On August 10, it was around 9:00, in the morning, and a posse of men from Gaddi community arrived outside the Gujjar sheds.
The armed forces personnel, who according to Bashir, escort Gaddis, had not arrived yet. When the Gujjars objected, Bashir said Gaddis “attacked them” and left many from the Gujjar community wounded.
“The Gaddis were carrying blades with which they put cuts on their bodies letting others assume that they were attacked by Gujjars,” Bashir said, adding no attack was launched on them rather they attacked his family.
Videos circulating on social media sites show blood oozing photos of a man and a woman from the Gujjar-Bakarwal community accusing Gaddis of launching an attack on them.
According to the Gujjar family, the boundaries for cattle rearing are separate for both the communities but the other community “deliberately comes in their side to clash with them”.
Trying every possible way to reach the officials and lodge a complaint, the family said they have sought a local court’s help for a time-bound action against the ‘culprits’.
On August 18, the family said they approached a court in the district’s Batote area and that has directed the concerned police station to look into the matter.
“We already visited the police station many times but no action has been taken so far,” Bashir said.
The court meanwhile has sent a letter to Police station Charankot asking the officers to listen to the Gujjar community, Bashir claimed.
Another family member Taiya Billa, who currently resides in Jammu, said that the First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against twenty persons of his community.
However, a police official from Chanderkot police station told Free Press Kashmir said that it is a long pending dispute between the two communities.
The FIR has been registered against “four to five” persons of the Gujjar-Bakerwal community by Gaddis, he said.
The police official added that the clash between the two communities ended with injuries to the members of “both the communities”.
When asked about the reasons to “deny” lodging a case against Gaddi community, as Gujjars claim police reluctance in taking the action, the police official said Gujjars have not approached the police yet for any action.
Meanwhile, police in a statement issued on August 12, said: “Police station Chanderkot received a written complaint from a complainant on 10,8,21 stating therein that few of their persons went to the forest in compartment number 33 for grazing of cattle but suddenly near about 100 people belonging to Gujjar community attacked their cattle and people with sticks, and severely injured 12 of them.”
The statement identified the injured persons as Mahinder Singh, son of Shadi Lal, Neelma Devi, wife of Mulk Raj, Himraj, son of Thakur Das, Rafilo Kumar, son of Chandu, Ramesh Kumar, son of Farzangi Ram, Omprakash, son of Chandu, Raju Devi, wife of Himraj, Barfu Devi, wife of Mahinder Singh, Pooja Devi, daughter of Shadi Lal, Shakuntala Devi, daughter of Kartaru, Sanjay Kumar, son of Krishan Lal, and Sundra Devi, wife of Mulraj.
The police said that most of the “attackers were unknown but 21 have been identified”.
On this information a Case FIR number 103 U/S 307/147/148/323/109 IPC was registered at Police Station Chanderkote, the statement added.
The injured mentioned in the police statement belong to Gaddi community.
Shabir Ahmed, 31, a social activist from the district, told Free Press Kashmir that such incidents may happen in the future as there are sluggish efforts being seen on the ground to sort out the issue.
The Gaddi community wants to “occupy the land as they are backed by many people with great political influence”.
“The Gujjar-Bakerwal community does not exist from today, they have been living here for centuries,” said Shabir, who lives few kilometres away from the community.
A Tribal Rights Activist Choudhary Irshad Khatana told Free Press Kashmir that the “community is time and again being attacked” by the Hindu community and mostly in Jammu region.
Tribals are always on the target of Cummunalism forces in J&K particularly after removal of 370.
This incident came from tribal Dhok Ladda Dhar of Ramban Distt.
We are Condemning this behaviour of Culprits who have made this sin to evicate tribals from their Dhok.@KashmirLife pic.twitter.com/8KSRYqIdGc
— Choudhary Irshad Khatana ارشاد (@Irshad_0003) August 19, 2021
Terming the assault a “communal attack”, the activist said the administration must take concrete steps so that such incidents are not being witnessed in near future.
He, on behalf of the Gujjar community, also requested Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha to protect the minority community from such ‘communal attacks’ in the future.