Unidentified individuals allegedly set a 15-year-old Muslim boy on fire in Chandauli district of Uttar Pradesh on Friday for refusing to chant “Jai Shri Ram”, IANS reported. The boy is undergoing treatment at the Kabir Chaura hospital in Varanasi.
“I was walking on Dudhari bridge when four men kidnapped me,” the boy said initially. “Two of them tied my hand and third one started pouring kerosene. After which they set me on fire and ran away.” He later said that he was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
However, the police denied that the boy was forced to chant the religious slogan. Chandauli Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Singh claimed the boy gave different statements to different people.
“He’s admitted in a hospital with 45% burns,” Singh told ANI. “He had given different statements to different people, so it seemed suspicious. It seemed he had been tutored. Police monitored CCTV footage of places he had mentioned and found that he had not been at any of those places.”
The police officer also claimed that witnesses saw the boy set himself on fire.
There have been a series of lynching incidents across the country, where victims were attacked for allegedly not chanting “Jai Shri Ram”. In the most recent incident, two Muslim men in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city were allegedly threatened and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” by unidentified people on July 21.
On June 18, a Muslim man identified as Tabrez Ansari was beaten up in Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district for allegedly attempting to steal a motorcycle. The FIR said that the mob had also forced Ansari to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. He died four days later.
Last week, a group of 49 intellectuals wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to intervene to stop mob lynchings. The letter said that the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” had become a “provocative war cry” and the reason behind many lynchings in the country.