Muslim Vigilante 'Moral' Policing Goes Wrong in India

Seven men from a minority community in the city of Belagavi in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka were arrested for assaulting two cousins after they mistook them for an interfaith couple. Two minors were also imprisoned for the alleged offense.

The incident occurred at the city’s Kote Lake Park around 3 PM on January 6.

The victim girl is a graduate, and she visited her college to collect some documents. She was told to wait till 3.30 pm,” a police officer said.

Meanwhile, her cousin joined her, and both were waiting at the Lake Park. As the girl was covering her face with a hijab and the boy was sporting a tilak, the accused thought that they were lovers and attacked them,” the officer added.

The girl recounted her horrifying experience with the media, telling them that she “repeatedly told them that Rahul (name changed) is my cousin, but none listened to me. They snatched our mobile phones. They took him to another room and assaulted him. They also hit me, asking why I was roaming around with a Hindu boy being a Muslim girl.

After three hours, the boy managed to contact the police emergency helpline (112), and the police were able to locate the victims using mobile tracking.

The girl’s mother is a Hindu, and her father is a Muslim. The girl’s mother and the boy’s mother are sisters. The boy has sustained injuries and is under treatment. About 15 people assaulted the duo,” another police officer said.

The seven people arrested over the incident were identified as 27-year-old Mohammad Ayman, 22-year-old Hussain, 22-year-old Ateef, 27-year-old Saif Ali, 18-year-old Umar, 19-year-old Rehan, 19, and 18-year-old Azan. The two other minor suspects were not identified. They were charged with kidnapping and assault under the Indian Penal Code.

We have booked the accused under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 149 (unlawful assembly), 394 (robbery), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code,” a police officer said, adding they were trying to nab others involved in the assault.

K S Eshwarappa, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member in Karnataka who served as the state’s former deputy chief minister, visited the two victims and criticized the state government over the incident.

Looking at the present scenario, I doubt whether there is a government or not. The Congress here has decided to create a fight between Hindus and Muslims before the Lok Sabha elections. I urge the government to hand over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” Eshwarappa said.

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