BEGUSARAI/NEW DELHI: A group of goons, allegedly with the Bajrang Dal, attacked middle aged Mohammad Istekhaar Alam in Begusarai on Saturday and beat him until he was unconscious, drenched with blood.

He is currently in hospital, unable to speak. The men have not yet been arrested, but a case of carrying beef has been slapped against Alam whose family is still coming to terms with the violence.

It had started as a good day for 48 year old Mohammad Istekhar Alam in Begusarai. He had been able to do reasonably good business selling clothes for children and had bought meat to celebrate the fact that his daughters marriage had been fixed. He was cycling home when a group of youth drinking liquor tried to stop him. He refused as he sensed danger and cycled furiously to get away. They chased him, brought him down, beat him until he fell unconscious and took away the Rs 15-16000 he had after selling his wares.

He was kicked and beaten viciously, even as he pleaded for his life. He was made to say he was carrying beef. He started bleeding through his ear and soon fell unconscious. But the assault continued even after that according to his family.

Alam is admitted in hospital and in no condition to speak. His family is traumatised, his old mother in complete shock.Theirs is a poor family, with no land, and dependent entirely on the little money he earned by selling kids garments.

His brother Mohammad Mumtaz Alam spoke to The Citizen, his voice laced with worry and tension. Villagers passing by saw Istekhar being beaten and alerted their old and feeble mother who was at home.

“We are supporters of Kanhaiya Kumar,” Mumtaz said and this too had led to heated arguments and threats over the days of campaigning. He was hopeful that the CPI candidate from Begusarai would be visiting them “this evening, he will definitely be here”, saying that the intention of those men was more to rob his brother of the meat, and the money, and the remaining clothes he was carrying. After taking away his money they stuffed Rs 500 or so back in his pocket to show that he had not been robbed, Mumtaz said.

For the family life had been peaceful in their village in Begusarai. In recent years there had been some such incidents where Muslims were targeted but no action had been taken. Istekhar stayed outside politics, in that he would leave his house in the early hours of the morning to sell the clothes and worked through the day to support his family, that includes his wife and four children.

His family members recall that he would go often without food, leaving the house at the crack of dawn, and eating a kachori or a samosa during the day. His was a hard life, long hours, and his daughters marriage was a source of joy and celebration. The household was in celebratory mode, but now they are all gathered in the hospital, wondering what they will do. The threat is real, as is the case slapped on them.

The accused are from a neighbouring village, and all known to each other.

There has been a spate of such attacks in Bihar with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar barely taking cognisance. The victims are facing cases, in some cases the accused have been arrested, in others not. Begusarai has just voted with a triangular contest between the BJP, RJD and CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar.