Saffron-clad men assault Kashmiri dry fruit sellers in Lucknow

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: March 7, 2019

All are members of the Vishwa Hindu Dal, a right-wing fringe group. Himanshu Awasthi, the president of the Vishwa Hindu Dal bragged about the attack on Facebook, claiming he and his men had carried it out. The video of the attack that he shared on Facebook has been taken down.



 
Lucknow: The market in the busy street of central Lucknow’s Daliganj area was bustling with activities as sellers were calling out to customers to sell their wares. At 11 am on Thursday, Prashant Kumar, a political journalist posted a video from the street. A Kashmiri dry fruit seller was beaten up mercilessly by saffron clad men on Wednesday evening and the video soon went viral on social media.


 
“A man was seen in a viral video thrashing a Kashmiri street vendor in Lucknow, the vendor was later saved by locals. The culprit Bajrang Sonkar has been arrested by police. Sonkar has criminal background and has 12 cases including a murder case against him,” said Kalanidhi Naithani, Senior Superintendent of Police.
 
All are members of the Vishwa Hindu Dal, a right-wing fringe group. Himanshu Awasthi, the president of the Vishwa Hindu Dal bragged about the attack on Facebook, claiming he and his men had carried it out. The video of the attack that he shared on Facebook has been taken down.
 
Sonkar was picked up late Wednesday night and three more were arrested on Thursday. The accused Himanshu Garg, Anirudh Kumar, Amar Mishra and Sonkar belong to Vishwa Hindu Dal Trust run by one Ambuj Nigam.
 
An FIR has been registered in Hassanganj police station under Sections 147, 323, 504, 153A and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, said SSP Lucknow Kalanidhi Naithani.
 
"These men just descended on us. They started beating us and calling us terrorists. We have been coming for 20 years. Something like this has never happened with us before," one of the dry fruit sellers said.
 
“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 said in the report.
 
Kashmiris have faced discrimination and assaults in several parts of the country following the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed. In Uttarakhand, students were forced to leave college campuses. Two Dehradun-based educational institutions have said they will not admit Kashmiri students in future.
 
Reacting to the Lucknow incident, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Nothing will do more damage to the idea of India in J&K than videos like these. Keep thrashing Kashmiris like this on the streets at the hands of RSS/Bajrang Dal goons & then try to sell the idea of “atoot ang”, it simply wont fly. (sic)”


 

 
Last month, the Supreme Court had asked 10 states, including Uttar Pradesh, to take "prompt action" to ensure Kashmiris living across the country do not face social boycott or attacks.

A protest against hate has been organised at 5 pm on Thursday in front of SSP residence, Sapru Marg, Lucknow. Activists and concerned citizens have urged every peace-loving citizen and organisation to come together to stop such hatred from spreading in their city and that no such incident is repeated again.