Bhopal:Two unidentified men allegedly attacked a 45-year-old Muslim vegetable vendor after the latter failed to show them his Aadhaar card on Wednesday afternoon in Madhya Pradesh's Dewas district.
The victim, identified as Zahid Khan, a resident of Amaltas village in Hatpipliya tehsil, said he has been selling vegetables and other eatables in nearby villages on his bike to make a living for the past 15 years. On Wednesday afternoon, while he was selling zeera (a condiment), he was stopped by two unidentified men who hailed from Baroli village. Curiously, they demanded to see his Aadhaar card.
Zahid, who was wearing a skull cap and sporting a long beard, however, failed to show his Aadhaar since he did not have it on him at that time. Angered with the denial, his assailants allegedly made religious slurs and beat him badly with a stick and a belt for almost an hour, the victim alleged.
The incident comes two days after 25-year-old bangle seller Tasleem Ali was brutally beaten up by a Hindutva mob in Indore's Govind Nagar for selling bangles in a Hindu-dominated area. Ali was later booked on charges of forgery and relevant sections of the POCSO Act. The incident grabbed the attention of the national media after a video of the beating went viral on social media.
There is no video of what happened to Zahid, however.
Speaking over the phone, Zahid told Newslick, "They attacked me because of my Muslim identity. I was selling eatables in a Hindu-dominated area. They also looted Rs 900 cash from me," he alleged.
"They approached me as I was wearing a skull cap and had a long beard. They asked for my Aadhaar and when I failed to show it, they said 'Tum humein kaafir kehte ho toh humaare ilaake mein kyun aaye' (If you call us infidels why did you come into our area) and attacked me with a belt and stick," he alleged.
According to the FIR, which was registered at Hatpipliya 10 hours after the incident occurred, Zahid said he was selling zeera on his bike in Baroli village when two men who he knew by face asked for his Aadhaar card. He said when he failed to produce it they attacked him. "They were beating me, saying teri himmat kaise hui mere gaon me ghusne ki and stopped only after I fell unconscious upon the villagers intervention. They threatened to kill me if I entered the village again before leaving the spot," the FIR said.
Zahid claimed he fell unconscious and laid there for hours before a villager helped him. "I have received multiple injuries on my legs and back," he said.
The FIR has been registered against two unidentified persons under Sections 294 (obscene act in any public place), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Speaking to Newsclick, Inspector of Hatpipliya police station, Sajjain Singh Mukati, said: "Both the accused have been identified. They hail from Indore and had come to visit their in-laws in the village. A team has been sent to their home to get further details and arrest them."
Despite repeated attempts, Dewas SP Shiv Dayal was not available for a comment.