4 arrests made till now in Lucknow Incident

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Lucknow: Two Kashmiris selling dry fruit were thrashed by a group of saffron-clad men in Daliganj locality here, following which four persons have been arrested, police said Thursday.

The incident took place Wednesday evening, the latest in a series of cases in which Kashmiris across India were targeted after the Pulwama militant attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel.

The assault on the Kashmiri vendors, which was caught on camera, was strongly condemned by Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir. “The Kashmiri youths were selling dry fruit on Daliganj bridge and a group of men beat them up, terming them stone pelters,” senior superintendent of police (SSP) KalanidhiNaithani told reporters here. Local people, however, rushed to their rescue and informed the police, he said.

An “alert citizen” also made a video of the attack, following which police teams swung into action and arrested the main accused, BajrangSonkar. Sonkar has more than a dozen criminal cases including that of murder, loot, theft and under the Arms Act pending against him, he added. On a tip-off, three others—HimanshuGarg, Aniruddh and Amar Kumar—were also arrested on Thursday, the SSP said.

Sonkar claims to be the president of a little-known Vishwa Hindu Dal. Naithani said the victims, Abdul Salaam and Mohammed Afzal, are from southern Kashmir’s Kulgam district and come here during winters to sell dry fruit. The victims later told media persons that they were satisfied with the police action, which they termed prompt.

The SSP said the police wanted to give a stern message that such acts would not be tolerated and those involved will be brought to book. An FIR was lodged at Hasangaj police station under various sections of the IPC, including 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), 307 (attempt to murder), and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, a police official said. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti accused the Centre of encouraging such people to polarise society.

“Kashmiris are being hounded and punished. The culprits here were clad in saffron kurtas and are from VHD. They have no fear and in fact uploaded the video on SM. GoIs (government of India’s) conspicuous silence is actually a political tactic to encourage such elements and communalise the atmosphere until polls (sic),” she tweeted. “You humiliate and assault Kashmiris. Make them feel like criminals and that they don’t belong to this country. Why are you surprised then when young pliable men are taken under the wings of terror groups and indoctrinated?” she said. Union finance minister ArunJaitley has condemned the attack, saying the country needs the people of Jammu and Kashmir in “its fight against terror.” “The attack on innocent Kashmiris is condemnable. Our fight is against the separatists and militants. We need the people of Jammu and Kashmir with us in the fight against terror,” he tweeted.

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