The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday booked 12 men for allegedly pulling the beard of a Muslim cleric and forcing him to chant “Jai Shri Ram”, PTI reported. The incident took place in Muzaffarnagar district on Saturday when the imam was going to his village on his motorcycle.

“Prime facie it seems to be a matter of physical assault,” Superintendent of Police Shailesh Kumar Pandey said. “Even then, the police have registered a case against 12 youngsters on the basis of the cleric’s complaint. Action will be taken against them on the basis of probe.”

The victim, Imlaq-ur-Rehman, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, was on his way to his village when around 12 youths approached him, assaulted him, and also pulled his beard. Rehman also claimed that he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.

The complainant said the accused told him to shave off his beard and then visit the village. He said that two local residents rescued him and raised an alarm.

The police are yet to establish the motive behind the assault. Pandey said that the cleric had registered a similar case in Muzaffarnagar that was later proved to be true.

The incident came three days after a group of men allegedly attacked madrasa students at the GIC Ground in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh for not chanting “Jai Shri Ram”. At least three students sustained injuries to their heads and arms. A case was filed, and the police arrested one of the four accused.