Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the attack on a Muslim vendor in Indore was a “prelude to inciting communal conflict, violence and polarisation”, ahead of upcoming Assembly elections in various states.
On Sunday, Tasleem, who sells bangles, was beaten up and robbed by a group of men. In a widely shared video of the incident, the men can be seen threatening and slapping Tasleem repeatedly. They also use derogatory words meant to address Muslims and ask the bangle seller not to enter any “Hindu area”.
The police have filed a First Information Report in connection with the incident, and arrested three men for assaulting Tasleem. The Muslim man has also been booked on charges of forgery, fraud and molestation of a minor, in a separate FIR.
Indore Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Bagri said that the police had found two Aadhaar cards from Tasleem.
Chidambaram on Tuesday questioned how the men who assaulted the vendor had been “emboldened to decide what is right and what is wrong”.
“Ghaziabad, Kanpur and now Indore,” tweeted Chidambaram on Tuesday. “If the state home minister will justify mob violence and vigilante justice, why is he remaining in the chair of home minister?”
After the assault on Sunday, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra had claimed that the 25-year-old man was using a Hindu name to sell his bangles.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala noted that despite being beaten up, the Muslim man was still booked so that he is “sent to jail”.
“These goons are insulting the great Hindu culture by spreading violence,” he tweeted. “Shame on you, is this the rule of law?”
Congress national spokesperson Shama Mohamed said that instead of speaking out against the assailants, the Madhya Pradesh home minister was trying to blame the victim.
“Why is it that after every incident of communal assault, the BJP tries to protect the mob?” she asked.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Subhashini Ali described the incident as “shameful”, and said that the BJP was “emulating and even outdoing” the Taliban.