Bairi Naresh of the Bharata Nasthika Samajam, an atheist organisation, was assaulted by a mob inside a police van in Hanamkonda district of Telangana on Monday, reported NDTV.

Naresh, an anti-caste activist and the Telangana unit chief of the atheist organisation, had been arrested last year for making derogatory comments against Hindu deity Ayappa. He is currently out on bail.

On Monday, he was attending an event at a law college in Gopalapuram town of Hanamkonda district when he was told that a group of men could attack him.

“A well wisher of mine reached out to me and said that there are some BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] activists outside,” Naresh told The Times of India. “Fearing an attack on me, I contacted police who provided me protection and arranged a vehicle for safe transport. But en route, the attackers stopped the police vehicle and then repeatedly attacked me.”

A video of the incident shared on Twitter shows, the group of men assaulting Naresh inside the police van even as policemen try to drag them away. All the attackers seen in the video have been arrested, Warangal Police Commissioner AV Ranganath told NDTV.

Naresh, who belongs to Other Backward Class community, had triggered tensions in December after a video of his speech made at a public gathering in Vikarabad district went viral on social media, reported The News Minute.

In his speech, Naresh described Ayyappa’s birth in a sexually explicit manner. Hindu devotees in the state staged protests at several places and demanded strict action against him. On December 31, he was arrested after the police booked him on charges of promoting enmity, outraging religious beliefs and making statements that amount to public mischief.