The Himachal Pradesh Police Monday arrested three persons who allegedly beat up a group of labourers from Jammu stranded in Barot two days ago.
Though reasons behind the incident are unclear, many people have blamed the communal tensions sparked by the recent spread of hate messages across the country to be behind the incident.
The victims, numbering seven to eight, had come to Barot in November to work on a power transmission project. Following the lockdown, they got stranded in the village, staying in an abandoned hydel project shed with no electricity or amenities, said Joy Chowdhury, a local tenant who knew the victims.
On Saturday night, a group of local residents arrived at the compound in an SUV and allegedly insulted and then assaulted the labourers, the police said.
Chowdhury said he and others rushed the victims to a local hospital after one of them approached him for help.
A police official said that the accused arrived at the compound after trespassing the curfew violations but instead accused the labourers of violating the curfew, using it as an excuse to beat them up.
He added that three of the accused, namely Sanjay Kumar, Rakesh and Gangaram, all residents of Barot, have been booked under sections 452, 323, 504, 188 and 34 of the IPC at the Padhar police station, and their vehicle has been seized.
According to Chowdhury, a labourer from another nearby place had joined the others a few days ago which caused suspicion and fear among some local residents. This was further exacerbated by the anti-minority sentiment being spread through social as well as mainstream media, several others said.
Nasir Khuehami, an SFI activist from J&K, tweeted that the labourers were attacked as a “result of vicious and hate campaign by Godi media against the minorities”. Several other activists took to social media to condemn the incident while a Bar Council of India member approached the local police following which the accused were arrested.
The victims have now been shifted out of Barot to a government shelter, the police said.
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