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K’taka: Visually Impaired Elderly Muslim Man Forced to Chant ‘Jai Shri Ram,’ Beard Burnt in Gangavathi

Hussain Saab, a blind man in his 70s, was assaulted by two young adults and forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ on the outskirts of Gangavathi city, Karnataka.

The incident occurred when Saab was on his way back to Gangavathi from a nearby village Hospet, past midnight on Saturday, after his usual fund collection for his daily needs, from the local masjid. After hearing an expensive price for an auto ride, Saab chose to walk. Two strangers on a scooter approached him. Saab considered asking for a lift but the people on the scooter yanked him aboard and abused him physically and verbally throughout the ride.

Saab was allegedly kidnapped by miscreants who took him to an isolated place in Siddikere. They assaulted him, pushed him to the ground, and dragged him by his legs which caused severe injuries to his back. One of the miscreants attempted to chop his beard using a broken glass bottle. On failing, they lit a match stick and burnt his beard. As he cried out in agony, they responded with Islamophobic slurs and comments.

“They took me… cut my beard, burnt my beard, and assaulted me. They hit me on my chest,” Saab told The Observer Post.

Saying “Allah won’t come for your rescue now”, the miscreants continued to assault him until they heard dogs barking from a distance. Alarmed by the disturbance, some migrants close by, went to his rescue. On seeing people approaching, two youngsters fled from the place, while threatening the old man to “show up at MNM Girls College with a clean shave”.

Rescuers took Saab to their shelter, offered him water, and asked for his relatives’ details to contact. He then phoned his daughter, who sent an auto to pick him up and left the area at around 6 in the morning. His daughter chose not to file any case, to avoid getting involved in any trouble.

The Social Democratic Party of India visited Saab after learning about his whereabouts from a resident of the same neighbourhood. The party delegation met the advocate and filed a complaint at Gangavathi town Police Station, who refused to comply and directed them to the rural Police station. A source told The Observer Post, “The uncertainty is due to miscommunication among the Police officials.”

Saab was hospitalized three days after the incident, due to difficulty in breathing caused by being hit on the chest and is reported to be in a better condition after he was given oxygen.

An FIR regarding the case is yet to be lodged by the Police based on the complaint filed.

Alleging indifference on the part of the Police, Salim Maniar, SDPI Koppal District President, who visited the victim told The Observer Post, “Neither of the Police stations have lodged an FIR yet, and we are waiting for updates from them”.

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