Leader of hardline Hindu group in India defends beating of Kashmiris

A Pakistan-based Islamist group claimed responsibility for the bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

By REUTERS
March 7, 2019 15:52
2 minute read.
Kashmiri men shout pro freedom slogans as relatives and friends carry the dead body of Afroza Wani o

Kashmir violence 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

NEW DELHI - The leader of a hardline Hindu group in India on Thursday justified the beating of two street vendors from mostly Muslim Kashmir by his members, saying "suspicious" Kashmiris had to be watched after a deadly bombing in the disputed region.

The assault on the fruit sellers by the saffron-shirted activists has been widely condemned in the Hindu-majority country where the Feb. 14 killing in Kashmir of 40 paramilitary policemen by a young suicide bomber has stirred patriotic anger and calls for war with Muslim Pakistan.

A Pakistan-based Islamist group claimed responsibility for the bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan, which like India claims Kashmir in its entirely, denied involvement.

While the nuclear-armed Indian and Pakistani militaries have clashed along their disputed border, many ordinary Indians have turned their anger on Kashmiris, who live throughout the country.

The fruit vendors were attacked in the northern city of Lucknow on Wednesday.

But what might have been just another altercation in a series of such incidents in recent days hit the headlines when the assailants, who slapped and hit the two men with a wooden stick, posted video of it on social media.

The attackers were members of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Dal (VHD) group and their leader was unapologetic.

"Yes, my workers beat them. After the attack on our army men with the help of Kashmiri jihadis, there is anger among the public,” the group's president, Ambuj Nigam, told Reuters by telephone from Lucknow.

"The Kashmiris pelt stones at our soldiers and wave the Pakistani flag. Why should we tolerate that?"

Indian forces have faced a separatist insurgency in the Himalayan region for decades and protesters often clash with the police and troops.

COWERING AND WAILING

Nigam said the two hawkers had looked "suspicious" so his members asked them for identity cards. His men had called the police but they had taken took too long to arrive, he said.

"Sometimes, when the police are late, we have to take matters into our own hands,” he said.

He said he had ordered his 50,000 members across India to “keep an eye on Kashmiris” to check if they are engaged in “illegal acts”.

The videos show the Kashmiri men cowering on the pavement as they are slapped and beaten with a stick by two men wearing saffron-coloured shirts.

One of the Kashmiris is heard wailing as he is pulled up by his shirt collar and slapped, before he runs off. A passerby intervened and managed to stop the other Kashmiri man from being beaten further.

Police said four men had been arrested for the assault and the two Kashmiris were free to sell their goods at the spot again.

"We will take action against the people responsible,” senior police official Anand Kumar told a news conference.

The central government has ordered authorities across the country to protect Kashmiris.

Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. It is ruled by Yogi Adityanath, a saffron-robed Hindu priest who has been criticised for anti-Muslim speeches.

The state is a major battleground for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist ruling party in a general election due by May.

Nigam said Facebook had blocked his account after he posted video of the assault on the vendors.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

An aerial view shows firefighters battling fires at the site where a man started a fire after sprayi
July 18, 2019
At least 23 people feared dead in Japan animation studio fire in Kyodo

By REUTERS

Cookie Settings