Two Muslim youngsters were allegedly thrashed by a group of right-wing men in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka on Tuesday evening. Two separate cases have been registered at the Mudigere Police Station related to the attack, four have been arrested and further investigation is underway.
The group of people arrived in a car, and attacked the 19-year-old cousins Mohammad Munaaz and Sameer amidst the watching public in a bus stand, accusing them of offering chocolate to a Hindu girl. They allegedly attempted to kidnap the two boys who managed to escape, and later beat them up and chased them, until after the Police arrived.
The group associated with a Hindutva outfit alleged that the boys had proposed to a Hindu girl with chocolates — an accusation denied by the victims.
“Woh bol rahe ki unki ladki ko chocolate dene gaye hamaare ladke. Jabki ladki ki baat hi nahi hai (They say that our boys went there to give chocolate to a Hindu girl, but there was no girl involved in the matter at all)” Moidin, Munaaz’s father, told The Observer Post.
A week ago, Munaaz was threatened by two men on a bike, who asked for his parents’ details and address, in his hometown Banakal, saying “You come to Mudigere, we will teach you a lesson”. He did not tell anyone about this encounter with the perpetrators, except his elder brother, and dismissed it.
Munaaz said that about 6 months ago, Sameer was taken in a car by the same group saying they would take him to a police station. They took him elsewhere and assaulted him, over an alleged relationship with a Hindu girl, threatening him to never be seen in the town.
On Tuesday morning, Sameer had visited the town to lend his phone to a college friend and was supposed to collect it in the evening. The same evening, he and Munaaz went to the town, met with their friend and were waiting for Sameer’s friend to return his phone in the bus stand.
According to Munaaz, one of the perpetrators standing in the shop opposite them, called Sameer, who was stopped by Munaaz since he was assaulted initially. After a while, Sameer went to the college nearby, to collect his phone at a distance.
Following this, the person at the shop called up his friends, who arrived in a car.
“Initially they started to close in and hit me a few times using their hands. Later when Sameer arrived, he stopped them from hitting me. About 7-8 people tried to push him inside a car, but when I tried to defend him, they started to push me into the car. I somehow managed to escape from their hold, but then they hit me up badly,” Munaaz said.
“They hit Sameer using slippers on his back and neck,” he said.
Munaaz is currently admitted in a local hospital after he was severely injured on his head, back and other parts of his body due to being hit by a metal lever of the car in broad daylight.
“While one of the perpetrators was calling some more people to the location, another man gave the car key and told the college student to get the lever from the trunk of the car. The guy then took the lever and hit my head. I started feeling dizzy, and then he started hitting me on my back, hands and shoulder” Munaaz told The Observer Post.
Munaaz’s father said the group is trying to disrupt the peace ahead of the elections to be held.
“They are trying to say that they have befriended or proposed to a Hindu girl. This is all made up” Moidin said.
“Ever since the Congress has come to power, the BJP-RSS is trying to target the youngsters and beat them for no reason. They frame them as being involved in love with the girls of other faiths. It is only to stir up controversy and create communal tensions,” he said.
Four persons have been arrested after CCTV footage captured the assault on the youth at the KSRTC bus stand. Locals have expressed concerns over the rising menace of gang youth in the area.
In the FIR registered, the accused have been charged with sections 143 (punishment for participating in unlawful assembly), 144 (joining unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), 149 (offence committed in furtherance of the assembly’s common objective) of the Indian Penal Code.