LUCKNOW: The Pulwama terror attack is still handing out the anti-social wayward a reason to strike at will and vitiate the atmosphere. It was seen this time in Lucknow, known for carrying an unhindered legacy of forbearance and Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb, when 4-5 saffron-clad youngsters assaulted two Kashmiri dry fruits vendors at a crowded old city locality on late Wednesday evening.
As the video of the incident went viral on social media, the Lucknow police swung into action and arrested all four on Thursday morning.
The vendors, who were sitting on a busy road of Hasanganj, were abused, beaten with sticks and slapped for their identity, by a group of 4-5 men associated with a self-made trust– Vishwa Hindu Dal, which is owned by one Ambuj Nigam. Nigam is also on police radar.
Main accused Bajrang Sonkar, 35, has been a history-sheeter with over a dozen criminal cases of loot, murder, auto-lifting and violation of Arms Act lodged against him. The other three -- Himanshu Garg, Amar Kumar and Anirudh Kumar – were also arrested for assisting Sonkar in the act.
Sharing the information with media persons, Senior Superintendent of Police, Lucknow, Kalanidhi Naithani said: “Some anti-social elements assaulted Kashmiri youths at Daliganj Bridge under Hasanganj on Wednesday evening. We have rescued the victims but one Kashmiri youth, ran away, as he was terrified.”
The SSP added that the viral video of the incident helped police identify the culprits. “We set up three separate teams to nab the culprits. While one of the accused, Bajrang Sonkar, was arrested late on Wednesday night, Himanshu Garg, Anirudh Kumar and Amar Mishra were nabbed on Thursday,” said the SSP.
“I come regularly here bringing dry fruits from Kashmir to sell here. As I was sitting with my brothers, suddenly a group of four-five men attacked me after asking about my identity,” says Afzal, one of the victims who suffered a major blow. “They were carrying sticks and they started beating us, abusing us and calling us pathharbaaz (stone pelters),” he said adding that some local people tried to save him and he had to run from the spot leaving dry fruits behind on the road.
“In the melee someone took out around Rs 26000-27000 kept in one of my pockets,” rues Afzal.
Abdul, who was also with Afzal at the time of incident, claimed police called them past midnight after the video of the incident went viral on social media. Abdul and Afzal both belong to Kulgam in Kashmir and visit Lucknow to sell dry fruits during winters ever year.
As per the SSP, the FIR was lodged on the basis of the statement of the victims at Hasangaj police station under
various sections of the IPC, including 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (Voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult and provocation to break public peace), and Clause 7 of Criminal Law Amendment Act.
However, Ram Kishan, a fruit vendor in the same locality, claimed that the victims were attacked suddenly. “When I and a few others present on the spot tried to save the Kashmiris, the goondas abused us and we also received a few blows,” he added.
However, taking cognizance of the incident, DGP O P Singh issued an advisory to all the district police chiefs across UP to take care of those who come from other states. The DGP asked the district police heads to ensure their security and that they should not be harmed in any way at any cost.
Naithani said police wanted to give a stern message that such acts would not be tolerated and those involved will be brought to book.
Similar incidents of harassment of Kashmir students and traders have been reported from various parts of the country in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack on February 14.