news Monday, October 13, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | September 28, 2014 | 6.30 mm IST “They called thrice today, but I dint answer the phone,” 60-year-old Sheik Ali said, holding up his mobile phone. A month ago, his son Abdul Shameer was badly beaten in Mangalore, allegedly because he was “illegally” transporting cattle. The three calls that Ali ignored, were from the financial institution that granted a loan to his son. In coma for a few days, Shameer is conscious now, but has not recovered enough to get about.  On August 24 Shameer (32) left his house in Mangalpady, Uppala village, along with Shoukath and Fayaz to transport cattle from Uppinangady to Thokkottu which is 55 km away, in Dakshina Kannada district. Uppala village is in Kasargod district in Kerala, just across the border from Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. Kasargod was once a part of Karnataka. “He usually reaches home by 10 pm, but that day he din’t, so I called him and a hospital sister (nurse) answered the phone,” Ali said, speaking to The News Minute last week. He was in his house in Uppala village, and managed to rush to Mangalore around 20 km away, where his son was hospitalised. First admitted to the district government Wenlock Hospital, Shameer was shifted that very night to a private hospital as the facilities at the government hospital were inadequate to treat him. The assault on Shameer and his associates by self-styled vigilantes for “illegal” transportation of cattle is one of many in the district that began to occur since mid-2000s. One of the most high profile cases was the public assault of Hajabba and Hasannaba in 2005 in Adi Udupi, Udupi district. According to a PUCL report, there have been seven such incidents this year in the region, but the actual number is higher, as many complaints are not registered with the police, and go unreported by the media. “He was in the ICU downstairs when I reached. His face was all bandaged, he was breathing with a machine,” Ali said, gesturing with his hands. He was in the ICU for 12 days before they shifted him to the general ward, he added. Every day, Ali and his wife take turns to sit at his bedside. Ali says that Shameer talks a little, but is sometimes unable to remember what he has said. Suddenly, Ali said: “The bill was in the vehicle, I don’t know what happened to it. There is a case on him too.” “Illegal” cattle transport The bill that Ali is referring to is a document that states that the local gram panchayat has given permission for the sale of cattle. Puttu Monu (49), is one of the men who sold the cattle to Shameer. Monu, who is a farmer, told The News Minute that the bill had been in Shameer’s name as it included the vehicle number. He said that the document contains a certificate from veterinary doctor, and also the physical description of animal being sold.  After obtaining this document around 6 pm, Shameer and the others purchased some more cattle from another man and then set off for Thokkottu in Mangalore, which is around 55 km away. They were assaulted at around 10 pm that night. According to the FIR (Crime No 299/14) registered by the Mangalore Rural police based on Shoukath’s complaint, the trio’s vehicle was chased by a group of people in vehicles after they crossed Arkula on the national highway connecting Bangalore and Mangalore, asking them to stop.  In his complaint to the police, Shoukath says that they sped towards Mangalore fearing for their lives. However, near Pumpwell, just outside the city, they were waylaid by some men in bikes, forcing them to stop. Shoukath says that the group threw stones at their vehicle. While Fayaz managed to escape, Shameer was badly beaten with a wooden rod, and Shoukath too sustained injuries, the FIR states. The assailants threatened and abused them for transporting cattle, the complaint says. A case has been registered under Sections 143, 147, 148, 341, 504, 323, 324, 506, 427, 326, 307, read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 2 (a)(b) of the Karnataka Prevention of Destruction and Loss of Property Act, against the assailants. Requesting anonymity, police said that all the five people arrested so far were members of the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The arrested Prakash, Manoj, Umesh, Anil and Shivraj are in judicial custody. Sharan Pumpwell, the state president of the Bajrang Dal, was not reachable for comment despite repeated attempts. Asked if cattle transport was Shameer’s livelihood, Ali said that he had only gone on four trips to transport cattle since the government closed the waters for fishing during the monsoon. Shameer transports fish from the dock in Mangalore, locally called Bunder, to Kannur in Kerala. He had to take up offers to transport cattle, Ali said. “How else would he pay Rs. 16,000 a month?” he said, explaining that Shameer had taken out a loan of Rs. 6 lakh in December 2013 to purchase a Tata Xenon, payable in instalments of Rs. 16,000 a month over a period of five years. Including interest, Shameer would have paid a total of Rs 9 lakh, according to Ali. “He dint know the risk (of transporting cattle). He was an auto driver earlier. After expenses, he was left with just Rs 200 a day to look after his family,” Ali said. Shameer and his wife have five young children, who are between the ages of 11 and 1 years. Ali said that the family had already paid off half the bill, which totalled Rs 3 lakh so far. Asked how they had arranged the money, Ali said that he had sold his daughter’s jewellery. His daughter Shakira is a pre-university student, in her first year at a college in Mudipu in Dakshina Kannada. Asked how they would pay the rest, his eyes moistened a little. “We don’t even have land. Our house is on one and three-fourth cents of land, and even that is not in our name. We don’t have a patta,” Ali said, by way of an answer. He said that there was nobody who could really help them. His wife’s sister visited and gave them Rs 10,000 to help with the bills but there was nobody else. His other four sons (Shameer is the eldest of six children) are all auto drivers just like Shameer was nine months ago. Added to his problems, is the case that Shameer too now faces. Mangalore Rural police have suo moto registered a complaint against Shameer, Shoukath and Fayaz, booking them under Sections 8, 9, 11, 14 of the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Act, and Sections 11 (1) (a,d,e), 20 (11) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act read with Section 329 of the IPC. Police said that the animals have been shifted to the Govanithashrama in Bantwal taluk, Dakshina Kannada district. “The police sit here (in the ward). They have told us to get anticipatory bail, but we don’t know how to get it. We’ll need a lawyer. (At least if we get anticipatory bail) we can take him home when they discharge him, otherwise they (police) will take him away,” Ali said, referring to the FIR registered against Shameer. He then spoke about the vehicle that his son had taken a loan to purchase. “They smashed it, the glass, headlights, seat, glass, steering. It’s all gone,” he said, claiming that repairs would cost another Rs 75,000. Getting it released from the police was also an ordeal, having had to run from pillar to post.  Doctors at the hospital told The News Minute that Shameer’s condition was “pretty bad” when he was brought in. They said that he had a head injury which caused bleeding in the brain, and that his limbs are functioning, but his body has not yet fully recovered. There is no way to know whether his body will function in the same way it did before he was assaulted.
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