I met Shauqat Ali at Guwahati Medical College Hospital which is under the surveillance of Assam police and para-military forces.
"They could have lynched me to death before making me eat pork," lamented Shauqat the moment I took his hand in mine. His swollen cheeks have marks of nails. With a towel, he wiped the eyes which were still red bearing the marks of a treatment with chili powder still giving him burning sensation. Shauqat's son took the towel and wiped the tears off his father's cheeks.
Shauqat asked me to come closer to talk and he was struggling for voice.
Pain is severe as he was ruthlessly beaten with rods continuously for two hours. "I survived that," Shauqat said as he restrained the tears. The doctor is asking to begin taking food. But he does not want to. Whenever something is taken into mouth, that pork piece agitates his mind.
Lynching in the name of selling beef happened in Bishwanath of Tezpur constituency as polarization efforts were on the rise with the country's run-up to the first phase of general election.
Shauqat has been running the beef shop for the last forty years. One of his five brothers is a school teacher. Beef-trading was inherited from his father. He has been selling beef since then, as Assam has not prohibited sale of beef so far. Beef was sold in the market like any other food item. Shauqat was feeding his eight member family from income out of his beef business.Cooked beef and rice were sold in the biweekly market in Chariyal on Fridays and Sundays. The items had good demand and everyone, irrespective of their religion, in the market knows Shauqat Ali and his beef and rice.
The attack was pre-planned by a Hindutva mob. Last Sunday, the mob approached Shauqat for money. When he paid some, they demanded more which he refused to pay. When he reached the market on that Sunday for selling the items, the caretaker of the market asked Shauqat to hide the beef somewhere. Shauqat took the beef away and brought chicken instead and cooked it to sell with rice. When the caretaker asked to take away the items altogether, Shauqat obliged and moved to another spot. There the mob assaulted Shauqat and detained him for two hours.
When people started to leave the market earlier than usual, the mob assaulted Shauqat with rods. Seeing the assault, people gathered around the scene but kept away from saving their fellow, even those who knew him.
Several Muslim fellow-traders were absent on the day due to rain. Amidst the attack, a piece of pork was picked up from a shop nearby and pushed into his mouth. The mob asked to chew it and thrashed him when he refused. He was punched several times in the face and chilli-powder was applied in his eyes. During the torture, the mob forced Shauqat to swallow the pork piece. The group did not flee the scene even after police came. At last, the police came with CRPF and took him in custody and led him to the police station. The police did not bother to arrest anyone of the mob. At first, Shauqat was admitted to a hospital in the city and was taken back to lock-up. He was again taken to the hospital on Monday only after a video of the mob violence spread across the media.
He was taken to Guwahati Medical College hospital on Monday midnight as the local people raised their protest before Tezpur's BJP MP about lack of proper care and treatment in Bishwanath City hospital.