A group of men, reportedly from a Hindutva outfit, attacked two Kashmiri roadside vendors in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow on Wednesday, NDTV reported. A resident stopped the saffron-clad men from further assaulting the two men, who were selling dry fruits.
The police registered a case of rioting and breach of peace and arrested four people in connection with the assault. The police had arrested Bajrang Sonkar on Wednesday night, News18 reported. Three others – identified as Himanshu Garg, Aniruddh and Amar Kumar – were arrested on Thursday, according to PTI.
Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani said they had filed an FIR at the Hasangaj police station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to rioting and attempt to murder as well as the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Sonkar claimed that he is the president of an organisation called the Vishwa Hindu Dal.
The incident took place in Daliganj area of Lucknow at around 5 pm on Wednesday. In a video uploaded on social media, two men are seen beating up the Kashmiri vendors, with one of the accused using a cane. The two traders were forced to shut shop.
When a passerby intervened and asked why the men were being beaten, one of the perpetrators answered that the men were from Kashmir. However, the passerby told the saffron-clad men to stop taking law into their hands and call the police instead. The fruit-sellers were also asked to produce their identification cards.
A number of incidents of violence against people from Kashmir were reported in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing on February 14, in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. Several Kashmiri students were reportedly harassed and beaten up in Dehradun and other parts of the country after the terror attack, forcing many Kashmiri students in Uttarakhand to temporarily leave the state.
The Supreme Court on February 22 had sent notices to the Centre and 10 states asking for their responses on a plea seeking intervention to prevent such attacks on Kashmiri students. The top court had directed the governments to take action against the accused. Later that day, the Centre had issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories directing them to take steps to ensure the safety and security of people from Jammu and Kashmir.
Omar Abdullah urges PM to take action
Sharing a video of the assault, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday expressed concern.
Addressing a tweet to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, “This is what you had spoken against and yet it continues unabated. This is the state governed by your handpicked chief minister,” said Abdullah. “Can we expect action in this case or do we file your concern and assurances as a jumla, meant to placate but nothing more?”
Modi on February 23 had said that incidents of violence, reported against Kashmiri students, should not have happened. “What happened to Kashmiri students in the last few days, such things should not happen in this country,” he said.
Abdullah said that nothing will do more damage to the idea of India in Jammu and Kashmir than such videos.