He Was Attacked for His Muslim Identity, Says Brother of Bangle Seller in Indore

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Viral video of mob violence forces reluctant police to file FIR, arrest two of the three alleged culprits

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — A Muslims bangle seller was beaten up and looted by a gang of Hindu extremists in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh. The police initially refused to take action against the culprits but when a video went viral which sparked online outrage and protests within the city, an FIR was filed in Police Station Kotwali under 14 different Sections of the Indian Penal Code on charges of beating the victim and promoting communal animosity. These are Section 153-A, 298, 323, 284, 141, 142, 143, 144, 147, 148, 149, 506, 395, 120-B, 34.

The main accused have been identified as Rakesh Pawar, Raj Kumar Bhatnagar and Vivek Vyas. Two of them have been rounded up, police said.

Twenty-five-year-old Tasleem was assaulted by the mob for his Muslim identity, his brother Jamal, 22, told Clarion India. “He had given his nickname Bhora to the mob to hide his identity, even then they beat him up.”

Jamal said that the attack on his brother was an act of revenge by the mob over the recent communal issue in Indore city. “The mob shouted that beat him like they beat our people in Bombay Bazaar (a market in Indore).”

According to Jamal, the mob made false allegations against Tasleem that “he touches the wrists of Hindu girls on the pretext of selling bangles,” Jamaal said. “This is an excuse they used to thrash and loot him. We sell bangles to make a living. This is our livelihood.”

The mob also warned that Muslims should not be allowed to enter Hindu area, Jamal alleged. “They looted material worth Rs. 30,000, cash of Rs 6,000, mobile phone and Aadhar card from Tasleem.”

Days before the attack on Tasleem, supporters of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad gathered outside the District Collector’s office in Indore and held demonstrations demanding action against “Love Jihad” and “Land Jihad.”

According to a video on the internet, one of the men who addressed the gathering, warned that if their demands were not met, they would take action on their own and the administration would be responsible for consequences.

The attack on Tasleem took place around 2 PM on Sunday. The video which surfaced on the internet on the same evening shows members of a mob yelling, slapping and kicking him.

But before the video cropped up and sparked outrage, Tasleem had already gone to the police with his complaint against the mob but the police did not file a case. “The policemen at the Kotwali misled him. They told him that if he files a case against these men then they will file a case against you and you will also be arrested for ‘touching the wrists of Hindu girls’. A policeman told him that if wants to live then he better leave and go home.”

A police officer even put out a video saying that they have seen the video but will not file any case since “there was no complaint”. It drew ire on social media with people arguing that it was clear from the video for the police to take action even without a complaint.

Hours later after Tasleem reached his accommodation in Ranipora locality, some activists and local lawyers visited him. “They assured us that they will help us in filing the case and get the culprits arrested.”

The video sparked outrage on social media. A group of people led by local Muslim activists gathered outside the police station demanding action following which FIR was lodged.

But Imran Pratapgarhi, chairman of Congress minority cell, alleged that police were trying to cover up the matter. He also pledged that he would give the money looted from Tasleem.

Ashutosh Bagri, Superintendent of Police, Indore, appeared on a video wearing full riot gear, on Sunday night to confirm the FIR and promised strict action against the culprits.

On Monday, Bagri said they identified the three main accused after seeing the video. “These are Rakesh Pawar, Raj Kumar Bhatnagar and Vivek Vyas. Two of them have been rounded up and the manhunt for the third accused is on. The other men seen in the video beating up (Tasleem) are also being identified and they will be arrested,” said Bagri, urging people to maintain calm as he assured that no culprit would be spared.

But in Monday state Home Minister Narottam Mishra justified the attack on Tasleem alleging that he used ‘fake identity’.

Tasleem originally comes from a village in Hardoi district in central Uttar Pradesh. Jamal said several men from his district come to Indore to sell bangles. “We have been working here for the last five years but never faced any issue,” he said, adding the incident has terrified their family in Uttar Pradesh. “Tasleem’s four daughters are crying all the time since they saw the video. Our parents want us to come back home.” He said they will go to their home in a few days, after completing formalities of the case.

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