The Varanasi Police have registered a case after members of a Hindutva outfit tonsured a Nepali-speaking man and forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and raise slogans against Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, reports said on Friday. Arun Pathak, the convenor of the Vishwa Hindu Sena, which carried out the attack, shot a video of the incident and uploaded it on his Facebook account.
(Update: Initial reports said he was a Nepali citizen. However, the police later found he was a registered voter in India. The police also claimed he was paid to participate in the video.)
In the video, an unidentified man is seated near a river, with no clothes on his upper body. A group of people forces him to shout slogans against Nepal and Oli, and praise India for providing Nepalis with employment opportunities. The man, who speaks Nepali, is also coerced into chanting “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
Pathak also justified his group’s actions on Facebook, The Hindu reported. He urged his supporters to write “Jai Shri Ram” on the tonsured heads of Nepalis so that Oli would not dare to “insult” Hindu deity Ram. The Varanasi Police said a first information report has been registered at Bhelupur Police Station, but did not give more details.
Nepali Ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya called Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath to draw his attention to the video, The Tribune reported.
Oli had on July 13 claimed that Ram was born in Nepal and that Ayodhya was a small village in his country, not a city in Uttar Pradesh in India. He also accused India of “cultural oppression and encroachment”.
The following day, Nepal’s foreign ministry said Oli’s remarks had no political implications and was not intended to debase Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh or hurt anybody’s sentiments.
Oli’s statement came amid tensions between India and Nepal over the Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura areas. Nepal maintains that India has claimed the disputed region by building a link road despite repeated objections. India, on the other hand, has said that the road falls within its territory.
In June, the Nepal Parliament approved a bill demarcating the Lipulekh mountain pass, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territory. Earlier this month, Oli claimed that the Indian government and his political rivals were plotting to oust him from power.
Corrections & clarifications: This story was updated to reflect that the man who was attacked was not a Nepali citizen.