The Uttar Pradesh Police on Friday arrested a 20-year-old man who allegedly attacked a bus conductor with a cleaver and accused him of having abused Muslims. Soon after the arrest, the police shot the accused man, Lareb Hashmi, in his right leg, claiming it was retaliatory firing, The Indian Express reported on Saturday.
Hashmi, a BTech student, allegedly attacked the bus conductor, Harikesh Vishwakarma, in Prayagraj on Friday. Vishwakarma was injured on his neck and hands, but is said to be stable.
Hashmi was arrested later that evening. The police claimed that he fired at them, due to which they shot him in retaliation, injuring his leg.
The police said that as per preliminary investigations, another bus conductor named Sajid and an elderly person had argued about the ticket fare earlier in the week. On Thursday, Vishwakarma reportedly made a remark about Sajid and Muslims.
“During interrogation, Hashmi said he thought Vishwakarma was referring to him while making the comment,” Prayagraj Assistant Commissioner of Police Ajeet Singh Chauhan told The Indian Express. “Irked over this, he decided to teach him a lesson and made a plan to attack him.”
According to the police, on Friday, when Vishwakarma went to Hashmi’s seat to collect the fare, the 20-year-old took out a cleaver from his bag and attacked him. The driver then stopped the bus, after which Hashmi ran out and fled.
The accused man purportedly posted a video while the police were looking for him. In the video, he was heard chanting Islamic slogans, and saying that he attacked the bus conductor as he was “abusing Muslims”.
Towards the end of the video, Hashmi took out a cleaver and said that he had used it for the attack.
Yamunanagar (Prayagraj) Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhinav Tyagi said that a team has been set up to interrogate the accused man and find out who shot the video and who made it public.
Hashmi is a first-year engineering student at the United College of Engineering and Research in the Prayagraj district. He has been suspended from the college in the wake of the allegations, India Today reported.
Uttar Pradesh MLA Shalabh Mani Tripathi, while debating with Samajwadi Party spokesperson Anurag Bhadauria on the Hindi channel India TV, appeared to boast about the police firing, which had left Hashmi injured.
“Today, since there is a BJP government, he was not able to walk on his own legs,” he said, in an apparent reference to Hashmi’s gunshot injury. “You [Samajwadi Party] would have sent him to the Rajya Sabha, or made him an MP or MLA.”
Extrajudicial violence against those accused of crime has risen since the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, with party leaders frequently supporting such methods. This is despite the Supreme Court and United Nations human rights experts having expressed concern about such violence.