A 23-year-old man was attacked with sharp weapons by a group of 15 men in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district allegedly over a post supporting suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma, reported The Times of India on Sunday.
Sharma had made disparaging remarks about Prophet Muhammad during a debate on the Times Now television channel on May 26. Her comments led to a spate of violence and unrest across several parts of the country in June. India also faced a diplomatic outrage from a number of Gulf countries.
The victim, identified as Pratik aka Sunny Pawar, was attacked on the night of August 4 in Karjat town. His friend, Amit Mane, was present at the time of the assault, reported The Times of India.
According to a complaint filed by Mane, the assailants were referring to Pawar’s social media post about Sharma’s remarks. The police, however, are still verifying this claim.
“Our preliminary investigation suggests Pawar had previous enmity with some of the assailants,” said Inspector General of Police (Nashik Range) BG Shekhar. “Our probe will find out whether the assault had anything to do with that.”
The attack took place when Pawar and Mane were going to attend an event on his two-wheeler and were waiting for another friend near a medical store, reported the Hindustan Times. A few men approached them with a sword, sickle and hockey sticks, according to the first information report.
Pawar, who sustained injuries, was admitted to a local hospital, the police said.
Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Manoj Patil said that he will be discharged in a day or two. “The situation in Karjat is peaceful,” Patil added.
He also said that Pawar has a criminal history, reported the Hindustan Times.
The police have arrested five men and detained a minor in connection with the attack.
They have been identified as Sohail Shaukat Pathan, Arbaaz Qasam Pathan, Junaid Javed Pathan, Hussain Qasam Shaikh and Arbaaz Shaikh.
Sohail Shaukat Pathan and Arbaaz Shaikh were picked up from the Lohar Galli in Karjat and produced before a district magistrate court. They have been remanded in judicial custody till August 10.
Inspector Chandrashekhar Yadav said that they found the other three suspects and the minor after interrogating Sohail Shaukat Pathan and Arbaaz Shaikh.
A four-wheeler vehicle has been seized as well, reported The Times of India.
Junaid Javed Pathan and the minor were found in Pune’s Pimpri Chinchwad area. Hussain Qasam Shaikh and Arbaaz Shaikh were arrested in Chinchwad city.
The incident came days after a Bajrang Dal worker was attacked in Madhya Pradesh for allegedly supporting Sharma.
In June, two men were murdered for supporting her.