2 Feb 2024
As concerns about Islamophobia increase in India, an Imam found himself arrested by local police after enduring a brutal assault by a mob of Hindu nationalists. Shockingly, the culprits responsible for the attack are still at large.
The unsettling incident occurred on January 24 in Sinodha village of the Raipur state. Maulana Asghar Ali, the Imam of a local mosque, was at home when a group of men arrived, alleging there was a police complaint against him.
Recalling the traumatic experience, Maulana Asghar told the local media that there were no accompanying police officers with the men, yet they insisted he accompany them to the police station.
When Ali resisted, the men forcefully shoved him into their jeep. Fearful for his fate, he felt a sense of relief when the men eventually stopped the car near a local police station, seemingly not causing him any harm.
Contrary to his expectation, the mob pulled him out of the jeep and mercilessly beat him with bare hands, belts, and slippers, all while chanting, “‘Hindustan Mein Rehna Hoga Toh Jai Shri Ram Kehna Hoga [If you want to live in India, you will have to chant Jai Shri Ram].”
“All of this happened just in front of the police station, but no one intervened to stop the mob,” as the victim recounted to The Quint.
The distressing scene of Ali, soaked in blood, being taken inside the police station, was captured in a video that subsequently went viral on social media.
The police arrested Ali and informed him of a registered complaint, leaving him completely unaware of the charges leading to his detention.
Ali learned about the reason for his arrest, which stemmed from a WhatsApp status posted by one of his former madrasah students. This incident unfolded on January 23, a day after the inauguration of the Ram Janambhoomi temple on the ruins of the Babri Mosque.
A student of Ali shared a WhatsApp status containing an offensive message alongside a picture of the Babri Mosque. “Sabar jab waqt hamara aayega, Tab sir dhar se alag kiye jayenge’ [Keep patience. When our time will come, heads will be chopped off from bodies], the status read.
The screenshots of this WhatsApp status spread extensively among the villagers and the local Hindu community, leading to complaints about the alleged settlement of Muslims in the village. The complaint included accusations of issuing threats and hurting Hindu sentiments through social media.
Ali, along with two other members of the mosque committee, faced allegations that they influenced a 14-year-old to post the controversial status. While denying the allegations, Ali stated, “That student stopped coming to me 1.5 years ago. So, I have not interacted with him recently at all. And in any case, I have no control over what someone else is posting. If you still think I am at fault, let the police do its job; why beat me? This isn’t fair.”
Subsequently, the student, Imam, and his two associates were arrested by the police, but they were later released on January 30 after six days of imprisonment.
In contrast, the local authorities failed to apprehend the mob, citing inability to identify the culprits.