Even as communal tension continues in Dakshina Kannada district in coastal Karnataka, a 33-year-old Muslim fruit vendor’s attempt to save the life of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker, who was stabbed in Bantwal taluk, has moved many hearts.
The incident occurred on July 4 when unidentified assailants attacked RSS member Sharath Madivala at around 8.30 pm after barging into his family-owned laundry shop in the busy town of BC Road, or Bangalore Chikmagalur Road, in Bantwal taluk, 20 km from the district headquarters of Mangalore.
Abdul Rahouf, who runs a small fruit shop near the laundry, rushed to the spot and took Madivala to the nearest hospital in his autorickshaw.
However, despite Rahouf’s efforts, Madivala succumbed to his injuries on July 8.
Madivala’s family thanked Rahouf for his selfless service. “I know Rahouf and we must thank him for taking my son to hospital,” Madivala’s father Thaniyappa told this correspondent on Monday.
This was the second political murder in Dakshina Kannada district in the last three weeks.
The police suspect that Sharath was murdered in retaliation for the killing of a Social Democratic Party of India worker named Ashraf on June 21.
Six persons accused have been arrested in connection with Ashraf’s murder.
Investigations into Sharath’s killing are underway and the police officials have said arrests will soon follow. “We have got enough leads, and we will arrest the culprits soon,” Dakshina Kannada Superintendent of Police CH Sudhir Kumar Reddy told Scroll.in.
Rahouf says the horror the incident will stay with him for a long time.
He had just finished his namaz inside his little shop when he heard a scream for help from Praveen, who runs a grocery shop near Madivala’s family-owned Udaya laundry.
“Rahouf Bhaiyya, come fast,” Praveen said. “Someone has stabbed Sharath. He is lying in a pool of blood.”
At first, Rahouf was unable to fathom what was going on. But he stepped out of his shop, leaving his prayer mat unrolled.
“Praveen called two more shopkeepers to the spot,” he told Scroll.in. “Sharath was lying in a pool of blood and our immediate task was to rush him to the hospital. We pleaded with all the vehicles that came that way, including the local autorickshaw drivers, to take him to the hospital. But all our requests fell on deaf ears.”
Rahouf decided to bring out his own old autorickshaw, which he used to ferry fruit from the market.
“I found it was a waste of time to wait for a vehicle,” he said. “So we put Madivala in my autoriskshaw and drove him to the Father Muller’s Hospital, which is five kilometres away from BC Road.”
Sharath was alive when they reached the hospital at 10 pm. “I prayed for his speedy recovery,” Rahour said. “Later, I came to know that his friends shifted him to AJ Hospital where he breathed his last on July 11.”
Rahouf said he knew Madivala for the last 14 years.
“We used to exchange pleasantries and sweets during Deepawali and Eid,” he said. “It was not a thick friendship, but we knew each other really well.”
Rahouf said he never knew that Madivala was an RSS worker. “For me, he is Thaniyappa’s son, who has been running the laundry for more than 40 years,” he said.