Members of 45 Rohingya families residing on the outskirts of Mujeri village in Ballabgarh, Haryana’s Faridabad district, were assaulted allegedly by local people who objected to their plan to slaughter two buffalo calves on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. Residents of the settlement say the conflict started on Friday evening after a couple of villagers confronted them when they spotted two buffalo calves tied to a tree near the settlement.
“They first tried to take the animals, and when we objected, they asked us to sell the calves to them. We refused and told them that we had pooled in money and bought them for sacrifice on Eid,” said Sakir Ahmed, a Rohingya Muslim who came to this settlement a year ago. “Then they became aggressive and warned us that they would not let us kill the animals. We did not want any trouble so we assured them that we would take the calves back to the market and sell them on Saturday.”
But around 5 am on Saturday, before the refugees could take the animals to the market, a group of “15 or 20 men” came – some on bikes, others by foot – and allegedly assaulted them. “They released the calves and started to beat up anyone who tried to stop them. Two women were mistreated and their clothes torn when they tried to protect the men,” said Mohammad Jamil, another Rohingya. Residents also alleged that four among them were abducted by the assailants, taken to a forest area nearby, and beaten up with lathis and rods. Mohamadullah, one of the injured, recounted, “They took our phones and beat us up with sticks. They said that if we tried to tell the police or complain about what happened to us, they would come and kill us at night.”
Their ordeal ended around 7 am, he said, when their phones were returned and they were released. “We were so badly beaten up that we could not even walk, so we called up other people from our neighborhood who picked us up and brought us to the civil hospital in Ballabgarh for treatment,” said Mohamadullah. The four injured men, who sustained injuries mainly on their backs and legs, were discharged late Saturday afternoon. A case has been registered at the Ballabgarh Sadar police station against “unidentified persons” under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), and 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“An FIR has been registered under relevant sections of the IPC, and we are in the process of identifying the accused,” said Hanif Qureshi, Commissioner of Police, Faridabad. “Teams have been constituted to probe the incident, and we are hopeful of making some early arrests.” This was the first such incident since they came to the settlement a year ago, said the refugees. The settlement came up when refugees from various camps in Delhi gathered here, hoping to start life afresh. It now has a population of around 110 people, with most of them working as rag pickers.
“We came to Delhi from Myanmar around two years ago, and moved to this place a year ago. Life here was peaceful until this incident. Even in this case, we had agreed not to slaughter the animals so as to maintain peace and respect the wishes of the locals, but they attacked us anyway,” said Ahmed, adding that they don’t recognise any of the locals. Close to 10 police personnel have been deployed to ensure peace in the area and reassure the Rohingyas of their safety.