Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Police Monday registered a case after a mob allegedly assaulted a man from the Hindu community for giving a ride to a burqa-clad woman. The case was registered based on a video of the alleged assault that was shared via social media over the weekend. However, no arrests or detentions have been carried out.
In the video, brought to the police’s attention Monday, the man and the woman were stopped by a group of people who then questioned the woman about riding with the man. The person shooting the video can be heard identifying the woman as Muslim and her friend, the man, as Hindu.
The woman can then be heard pleading with the group, claiming that the two of them are from Andhra Pradesh and are not residents of the city. The mob, however, insists on speaking to the woman’s family.
According to Khaleel Pasha, Station House Officer, Nampally Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the case has been registered, the man and the woman had come to Hyderabad for the woman’s MBA admission in a city college. The duo, aged around 22 years old, refused to file a complaint.
“None of them from the mob knew the duo personally. A few of them spotted the duo travelling on a two-wheeler for some time, followed them and then they stopped them where a mob gathered. The incident took place on Sunday. We also gathered the details from the video; we could hear the mob making communally sensitive statements. We are probing all possible angles, but initial inquiry shows that there could be a communal angle to the issue,” Pasha told ThePrint.
“From the video, we could see there was a religious (saffron) ribbon tied to the boy’s bike. I think that’s how the mob identified he was from the Hindu community. He had a similar thread tied to his hand. The boy was from Hindu community, girl hailed from Muslim community. The mob also raised objections to how closely the duo was sitting next to each other on the bike,” a senior police official associated with the investigation told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
A case has been registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including section 295 A (deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, insulting religion), section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint).
2nd incident in a month
This is the second such incident to take place in less than a month in Telangana. Earlier in September, in Nizamabad district, a Hindu man was allegedly assaulted for giving a ride to his Muslim colleague. A mob forcibly took the two to a location about a kilometre away from the place of the alleged assault and held them there. They were released only after the girl’s brother assured the group that the woman was sent with the man with the family’s consent. A video of this incident was also shared on social media.
Both victims were contract employees at IIIT Basara, Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge and Technologies (RGUKT), and were on their way to a hospital to collect a government order copy pertaining to contract employees’ salaries, said N. Rama Rao, additional commissioner of police, Bodhan.
“The boy belonged to a Hindu community and the girl belonged to a Muslim community. The mob did not know them personally at all and they were outraged after they saw them on the bike together. The mob was in a car. All the six members who assaulted the duo are under judicial custody,” Rao told ThePrint.
The senior officer added the incident was not just one of moral policing but also an attempt to incite hate among communities. A case was similarly registered under IPC sections 295 (A) and 323 as well as 365 (kidnapping or abduction) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), apart from the SC/ST Act since the man, who filed the complaint, is from the SC community.
A fortnight ago, a similar incident took place in Bengaluru, wherein a man riding with a Muslim woman was allegedly assaulted. The police arrested two persons for moral policing.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)