Lucknow: In a shameful incident, a dry fruits seller who originally hailed from Kashmir, was assaulted by few saffron-clad men in Lucknow on Wednesday.
After the video of the incident went viral on social media, the Uttar Pradesh police swung into action.
According to J Kalanidhi Naithani, SSP Lucknow, in the video, a man can be seen thrashing a Kashmiri street vendor in Lucknow, who was later saved by locals. The alleged culprit, Bajrang Sonkar, has been arrested by the police along with three others. Sonkar has a criminal background and has 12 cases, including a murder case, against him.
Coming in the wake of incidents of violence against Kashmiris in North India after the Pulwama attack, the incident was condemned by various political leaders, including former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to “punish the guilty,” as per an IANS report.”
“Nothing will do more damage to the idea of India in Jammu and Kashmir than videos like these," Abdullah said in a series of tweets along with the video post, adding that "Keep thrashing Kashmiris like this on the streets at the hands of RSS/Bajrang Dal goons and then try to sell the idea of 'atoot ang' (unbreakable part), it simply won't fly."
According to Jamuna Prasad, the priest at the Daliganj bridge, three to four men came in a white coloured SUV and started arguing with the Kashmiri man who was selling dry fruits on the footpath.
“First, they argued and we thought they were bargaining for the price of dry fruits. Then people asked him for his Aadhar card. Suddenly, one of them started slapping the Kashmiri guy and then all of them assaulted him for few minutes,” the priest, who was one of the eye-witnesses of this incident, told Newsclick.
The priest further said that people who were passing the bridge did try an intervene.
A passerby, who is said to have shot the viral video, said on the condition of anonymity that “the attackers were asking the dry fruit seller to prove his identity and were demanding his Aadhaar Card. Then they asked him where he was from and after hearing the word ‘Kashmir’ the attackers went crazy and started beating him and dubbing him a stone-pelter.”
“It seemed like they had come with the intention to beat up the guy because they stopped their car near him and were not buying anything,” the teenager who runs a fruit cart told this reporter.
Later, a case was registered at the Hasanganj police station in Lucknow under sections 147, 323 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against unidentified men and the accused were arrested in the midnight, the Lucknow police said in its official Twitter account.
Vimlesh Nigam, a social activist from Lucknow, demanded strict action against the accused saying an attitude was not acceptable in the society, no matter which ideology these people subscribed to.
“We live in a civilised society and this is unacceptable. The guy was just selling dry fruits. I condemn this incident and demand strictest action against them,” he said.
Meanwhile, several Samaritans, including journalists, have come forward to help the Kashmiri guy whose location is yet to be traced.