Tablighi Jamaat member Farokh Ali Khan, whose assault triggered last week’s police-mob clash in Shamli’s Kandhla town, told The Indian Express Tuesday that he had not provoked in any way the men who manhandled him on the Janata Express.
Khan, based in Maharashtra’s Chikli, and four other Jamaat men were going to meet a cleric in Saharanpur when the incident took place. “The four other men I was travelling with were on the other side of the compartment. I needed to use the restroom. Four-five men were standing outside the door and I asked them to let me pass. They began to hit me, pulled my beard and hurled abuses. The sad thing was that I had not provoked them at all”.
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He added: “I cannot say for sure if they were drunk, but the smell of alcohol seemed to be there. Only one Muslim woman spoke up for me and later a group of Muslim boys came up to ask if I was fine. But, nobody prevented the assault.”
Khan said the assailants alighted from the train when it slowed down at Badaut. He added that he and his companions disembarked at Kandhla station to register a police complaint.
By that time, news of the alleged assault had spread across the town and its neighbouring areas. The next morning, with the alleged miscreants still at large, many Muslims of the area conducted a “rail roko” which snowballed into a violent clash between the mob and the police. While 17 people were injured in the incident, the town’s police station was also ransacked.
“I did not know that any violence was going to happen. In fact, when I heard there had been trouble in the town, I was worried that I had caused all this,” Khan said.
Over the past few days, policemen probing the case have visited Khan several times at the Jamiat Ulema E Hind office in New Delhi.
“There is such hatred against Muslims that people can start attacking you for absolutely no reason. I have heard that on this route there have been attacks like this before. So, I had planned to go to Saharanpur via Meerut. But my train from Maharashtra was two hours late, so I had to use this route,”he said.