New Delhi: In the latest incident of assault on Kashmiris, a group of men were seen on camera thrashing two Kashmiri youths in Uttar Pradesh’s capital city Lucknow on Wednesday evening.
According to NDTV, two dry fruit vendors were accosted by a group of men belonging to a “fringe right-wing group” wearing saffron clothing while they were sitting on a busy road on Daliganj bridge.
2 Kashmiri men thrashed on busy Lucknow street, accused film assault
— NDTV (@ndtv) March 7, 2019
The incident, the video of which has gone viral, took place at around 5 pm on March 6.
Some locals, however, rushed to their rescue and informed the police.
“We lodged an FIR in this connection at Hasanganj police station against unidentified persons immediately after the matter came to our notice,” a police official said.
According to NDTV, four individuals have been arrested by Lucknow police in connection with the in incident. All the arrested persons are members of the Vishwa Hindu Dal.
The main accused, identified as Bajranj Sonkar, has been arrested and a case of rioting and a breach of peace has been registered against him, according to NDTV.
Another individual, Himanshu Awasthi, who claims to be the president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has been posting on Facebook, claiming that him and his men were responsible for the attack. He also reportedly shared a video of the incident, which has since been taken down.
In the widely circulated videos, two men in saffron kurtas can be seen intimidating and thrashing the two vendors who were sitting on the road-side with their dry fruits sprawled across a sheet. In one of the videos, one of the Kashmir men is seen shielding himself and pleading to his assailant, who was welding a wooden stick, to stop attacking him.
The assailants can be heard saying that they’re attacking the two individuals because they are from Kashmir. They also asked the second dry fruit seller for his identity card as he tried to pack up and escape to safety.
Several locals reportedly intervened and asked the assailants to stop attacking the individuals. One of the locals can be heard saying, “Don’t take the law into your own hand. Call the police.”
Opposition parties and leaders condemn the attack
Several parties, including the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and leaders like Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Asaduddin Owaisi have condemned the assault of Kashmiri men.
Tagging the prime minister on Twitter, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said:
Nothing will do more damage to the idea of India in J&K than videos like these. Keep thrashing Kashmiris like this on the streets at the hands of RSS/Bajrang Dal goons & then try to sell the idea of “atoot ang”, it simply wont fly. https://t.co/MYkuEuDLjj
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) March 7, 2019
Condemning the attack on Wednesday, Mehbooba Mufti said:
Kashmiris are being hounded & punished. The culprits here were clad in saffron kurtas & are from VHD. They have no fear & in fact uploaded the video on SM. GoIs conspicuous silence is actually a political tactic to encourage such elements & communalise the atmosphere until polls. https://t.co/PuSZsZyiyY
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 7, 2019
Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted:
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) March 6, 2019
Continued harassment of Kashmiri’s after February 14
Following the February 14 suicide bombing in Pulwama in which over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers lost their lives, reports of people from Kashmir being intimidated and attacked have have increased across the country.
While the central government issued an advisory to the states to ensure their safety, instances of harassment against the Kashmiri population outside J&K don’t appear to be retreating. The Supreme Court had last month asked 10 states, including UP, to ensure Kashmiri’s living across the country do not face attacks.
(With inputs from PTI)