Three Muslim teenagers were thrashed in Godhra in Panchmahal district of Gujarat for allegedly not chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ at around 11 in the night on August 1. The three teenagers, who suffered minor injuries and were admitted in government hospital for treatment, have been discharged.
According to the statement of the victims, three friends, Samir Hafiz Bhagat, Sohel Hafiz Bhagat and Salman Giteli had gone out in the night for having tea when about six or seven men confronted them asking to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and subsequently thrashed them.
“Samir, Sohel and I went to a place called Baba ni Matthi in Godhra town for having tea at around 11 pm when six or seven men came out of nowhere and surrounded us. They asked us to chant Jai Shri Ram and then began thrashing us. We ran to save our lives and they chased us. The men only left us when locals gathered,” Samir Bhagat, one of the victims told NewsClick. “I have suffered injuries on my head,” he added.
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However, Leena Patil, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Panchmahal, refuted the cause of the incident as claimed by the three victims.
“This is a case of scuffle between two groups while they were out for drinking tea. Both the group were motorcycle borne and were trying to overtake each other at around 11 in the night. While both the parties were verbally abusing each other, things got heated up and ended up in a physical scuffle. We have CCTV video footage of the incident as a proof of the same,” she told NewsClick.
“However, a FIR was registered at 3 AM based on the statements of the three Muslim boys. Since Godhra is communally sensitive place, a communal narrative is being built around this incident,” Patil added.
Godhra had been the epicentre of riots that rocked Gujarat in the year 2002. On February 27, 2002, a bogey of a train, carrying karsevaks (Hindu pilgrims) returning from Ayodhya, was lit killing 58 karsevaks at the Godhra railway station, that subsequently led to communal riots which spread across the state.
The district, though declared communally sensitive, has not witnessed any major communal incident after the riots.
“Godhra has been divided into religious ghettos but there has not been any communal tension in the town. These boys happened to venture into an area which is not Muslim dominated for tea in the night. Its is not uncommon for a non-Muslim man to move around in the Muslim dominated part of the town in the night and have tea. It is shocking how these boys were surrounded and thrashed,” said a local activist.
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“However, the local police are trying its best to change the narrative of the whole incident. In fact, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Godhra, threatened me for standing up for the three boys and forcing the police to file an FIR,” he added.