A mob attacked a Muslim shepherd in Garri Gabbar village in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir after his son drove a few cows away from their pastureland, News18 reported on Sunday. Mohammad Asghar, who was thrashed by a 20-strong mob, has now been hospitalised with serious injuries. The incident took place a few days ago when the cows strayed into Asghar’s field and began eating and destroying his crop.

When Asghar’s son drove the cows away from the pasture, one of them received an injury on the back. This angered community members and a headman of the village asked Asghar to report to an uphill village for a meeting.

When Asghar and his son Javeed arrived for the meeting, the cow vigilantes pounced on them and beat them up, Malik Abbas, a Gujjar community activist, told News18. A video of the alleged incident has gone viral on social media.

“More than 60 people beat him with sticks and bare hands,” Mushtaq Ahmad, Asghar’s brother, said. “His condition is very bad. You cannot imagine what he has gone through.”

Abbas said Asghar’s son, who is 16-year-old, now faces a police case. ‘’Why was the case not slapped on first day?” he asked. “Why now? The counter FIR [first information report] filed by the majority community is based on a blatant lie.”

People’s Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhtar and Guftar Ahmed, an influential tribal leader from Jammu, asked the police to investigate the matter.

Reasi Senior Superintendent of Police Wazir said that the police registered a first information report under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. He said somebody had deliberately injured the cow with a sharp weapon. Later on Sunday evening, the Jammu Police said a total of three cases had been registered, and several accused apprehended. “Peace and harmony will be maintained at all costs in Jammu zone,” the police added.

Wazir added that another case has been filed against the cow vigilantes. “It is a far off area. Police rushed to the spot and brought situation under control,’’ she said. She added that there was no tension in the area any more.

This is not the first time cow vigilantes have attacked members of the Gujjar community. In April 2017, a 70-year-old Gujjar man and his family were beaten up and his tin shed smashed for allegedly smuggling animals.

There have also been several other instances of mobs attacking individuals for allegedly transporting cows, or storing or eating beef. A video showing a man being brutally attacked by cow vigilantes in Gurugram while the police watch, went viral on social media earlier this month.

The group of cow vigilantes chased a pick up truck for several km on a vehicle before managing to flag it down. They pulled out the driver, identified as Lukman, and brutally attacked him on the suspicion that he was transporting cow meat. After the assault, during which the police and some passersby merely watched, the man was put back in the vehicle and taken to Badshahpur village, where he was beaten up again.