SHAUKAT ALI, a resident of Biswanath district in Assam, was targeted by a mob on Sunday for allegedly selling beef. Police said a complaint filed by Ali’s family claimed that he was force-fed meat to hurt his religious sentiments.
A purported video clip of the incident circulated on social media showed Ali (45) being heckled and abused by a mob. While the faces of the attackers are not visible, their voices can be heard. “Why did you come to sell beef here?” asks one person. The next question is, “are you a Bangladeshi?”, followed by “is your name on the NRC”.
Ali can be seen sitting on the ground as he is heckled and abused. One person in the mob then makes him eat what appeared to be a piece of meat.
“The video appears to be genuine. We have received an FIR from a relative of Ali,” Biswanath SP Rakesh Roushan told The Indian Express. According to the complaint, Ali was attacked and forced to eat meat to hurt his religious sentiments. “We have begun an investigation and will proceed as per law,” said Roushan.
“We have taken all necessary precautionary steps and held meetings with local organisations to maintain peace and tolerance. There is absolutely no tension here. An inquiry into the incident is being held,” said Biswanath DC Pabitra Ram Khaund.
Ali, according to his family, ran a small eatery selling rice and meat twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays. The other days of the week, he sold ittar, veils and religious texts.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ali’s younger brother, Abdul Rehman, a teacher at a local government school, said: “For over 50 years now, my family has been running this rice-and-meat shop… There are four such eateries in the area, all catering to Muslim workers and small vendors. That day, we probably had buffalo meat. The mob came when my brother was about to leave the shop in the evening. They attacked him, hit him with rods and ransacked our small shop.” He alleged that the mob threatened to kill Ali if he did not eat a piece of meat to hurt his religious sentiments. “My brother is in hospital now. We have never seen such communalism here,” said Rehman.
“Such a thing has never happened before. Yesterday, these miscreants attacked him and threatened him. They thrashed him and then threatened to kill him… In our police complaint, we have mentioned the torture,” said Saifuddin Ahmed, a senior leader of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU).