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30 Jun 2017

'We fear to eat chicken...' - Assaulted milkman's son says cows are like family

Praduman Choube, TT, Dhanbad, June 29: If one goes by his son's account, Giridih milkman Usman Ansari (50) should have been the last person to be attacked by a mob for killing a cow as the Ansari family treats cows like members of their family.
A Muslim family selling milk for decades in Hindu-dominated Barwabad village (not Bhandara as reported earlier) in Giridih, the family fears to eat even chicken, said Kalim Ansari (27), a mason, at Dhanbad's Central Hospital run by the BCCL where his father Usman, thrashed on Tuesday by a mob over rumours of cow slaughter, is recovering.
Three FIRs were registered today at Deori police station in Giridih district, one of which was by Usman's wife. Giridih SP Akhilesh B. Varrier said of the 31 named accused, 13 had been arrested.
"We have been selling milk since decades and are surrounded by Hindu neighbours at Mandra locality in Barwabad. We treat our cows like family. We fear eating chicken, beef is unthinkable. We also run a very small grocery shop selling rice, dal, salt, what villagers call khichdi samaan (ingredients for khichdi). Most of our milk and grocery customers are Hindus," Kalim, the only one in Usman's family who agreed to speak to this reporter, said.
Usman mainly worked as a mason, leaving the milk business to his wife Aamna Khatoon, Kalim said.
On how the mob violence erupted, Kalim said he did not know. "I stay away from the village in Giridih town with my wife and children where I work as a mason," he said. "I came straight to Dhanbad last evening. I didn't even go to our village where our house, including the cowshed, has been burnt down."
Kalim's brothers Salim and Alim stay with the parents. Salim, who refused to speak to this reporter yesterday at the hospital, left for Giridih last night to give his statement to the police. Alim and mother Aamna are in Giridih town with relatives.
Kalim claimed Barwabad, with around 250 households of which maybe "40-45 are Muslim families" had always been peaceful. "I don't remember such a clash in my life," said the 27-year-old. "No clashes, no communal riots."
So, why did a mob of some 1,000 people attack his father with sticks and stones, forcing the police to open fire? "Seems to be the result of some animosity but I can't say more," said Kalim. "We had been implicated in the murder of a relative some 10 years ago," he said, referring to the case where Usman and his eldest son Salim had served time.
Dr D.K. Singh, attending to Usman at the ICU of Central Hospital, which is guarded by a 20-member joint team of CISF and Dhanbad Police, said his patient was out of danger.
"He suffered a depression in his skull, leg fracture and several wounds. Injuries seem to be made by bamboo sticks. But, he can be shifted from ICU to the general ward soon," Dr Singh said.
"He had tea and a slice of bread moistened with milk this morning," added Kalim, smiling for the first time.

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