The Tragic Cow Accident Many of Lou’s fans seem curious about the details of his “tragic cow accident” and especially about the severity of his prison sentence. It is a very sad story, which began one rainy day in October, 2012, when Lou borrowed the car of an Indian friend (a Muslim gentleman named Hassan Ramal) to run an errand. Out of nowhere, a large cow appeared in the road ahead and although Lou did his best to avoid it, the cow did not survive the ensuing collision.
Lou believed the cow had been at fault and he apparently did not show sufficient remorse in the aftermath of the accident. This was unfortunate, as the cow (named Amma-ji) was a real favorite of the local villagers—and especially the children.
Worse yet, the accident occurred on the first day of Eid al-Adhr, the Islamic festival on which some Indian Muslims sacrifice animals–including cows, which are so revered by the Hindu majority. Although Lou isn’t a Muslim, he was driving without his ID, and the only papers in the vehicle were Hassan Ramal’s registration documents. So everyone assumed Lou was Hassan and the local papers played it up, not as an accident, but rather an egregious “motorized cow sacrifice”. This left the prosecutor with little choice but to bring charges under the recently enhanced cow protection laws. The trial drew crowds from far and wide.
The highly charged atmosphere meant the real Hassan was unwilling to come forward to clarify matters. In fact, as payback for damage to his car, Hassan grabbed Lou’s passport and took off for the US (where he now runs a string of atmospheric motels along Route 66).
At the trial, Lou’s confidence in his legal training (and his desire to save a few rupees) lead him to the fateful decision to defend himself. The same frugality meant he did it without a translator, which was probably his greatest miscalculation. (Who knew that the Bengali term for “your honor” was so easily mispronounced as the term for “chicken rapist”?) In the end, they threw the book at “Hassan” and he was swiftly dispatched to Alipore Central Jail to begin a 7-year term.
For more of Lou’s adventures in Alipore, watch this space.