Jammu: Self-styled ‘gau rakshaks’ (cow vigilantes) assaulted a family, including a nine-year-old girl, in Reasi district on Friday night when the family was moving with its livestock in the area.
The nomad family comprising nine members including two women and a girl along with their live stock was stopped by these vigilantes near Talwara bridge in Reasi district and attacked with sickles, resulting in the injuries of five persons.
The victims said that the ‘gau rakshaks’ took away their entire flock, which included goats, sheep and 16 cows. Sammi, the nine-year-old girl, suffered multiple fractures and has been shifted to a hospital.
“They beat us ruthlessly. Somehow we managed to flee from there. One of our children, a 10-year-old, is still missing. We don’t know whether he is alive or dead. They even beat our elders very badly. They wanted to kill us and throw our bodies into the river. They didn’t even spare dogs. They too were taken away,” Naseem Begam, one of the victims, said adding that they would never be able to forget the horror.
We were so frightened after they attacked us in darkness. We are nomads and livestock is our lifeline. We have been moving livestock from one place to another since the time of Maharajas and nobody till date dared to touch us. But these goons who claimed to be the members of some Gou Rakshak Simiti pounced upon us with sticks and rods. We screamed and cried for help but all in vain, wounded Naseema Banoo said.
She identified some of her injured family members as Shabir Ahmed son of Jumma Din, Nazakat Ali son of Basharat Ali, Abida Akhtar daughter of Shoibuddin and Saima Akhtar daughter of Showkat Ali.
The injured are being treated at Jammu Medical College. The frightened family alleged that in the garb of cow protection, these fringe elements want to disrupt communal harmony. Is cow more precious than a human life? They wanted us to kill us, said the family members adding that the gou rakshaks seized their live stock.
Meanwhile, police registered an FIR and arrested four assailants. Four persons have been arrested and the livestock has already been restored to the goatherds who are their rightful owner, he said.
A large number of nomadic herder families reside in the state. They travel between the Himalayas in Jammu and the meadows of Kashmir every year along with their livestock, which include flocks of cattle, horses, goats and sheep.
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