Updated: June 16, 2021 12:55:40 am
A 72-year-old man, Abdul Samad Saifi, was allegedly attacked by at least two people and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Ghaziabad’s Loni.
Police said a video of the incident, which took place on June 5, was uploaded on social media a few days ago and it shows a man hitting Saifi and trying to cut off his beard as the victim tries to evade the blows. One of the accused has been identified as Ghaziabad resident Pravesh Gujjar, who has been arrested.
Saifi, a resident of Bulandshahr, was travelling to Loni at the time. He has alleged he was targeted because of his religion.
Dr Iraj Raja, SP Rural, Ghaziabad, said: “It was brought to our notice that a video had been circulated in which an elderly man was assaulted. An FIR in connection with the incident had already been filed and one main accused has been arrested. We are questioning local residents and other steps will be taken. The elderly man has been called to the station and his detailed statement will be recorded. The exact sequence of events is being ascertained.”
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“We are in touch with the victim and all possible measures will be taken. The FIR has been filed for assault and intimidation as the complaint does not mention chanting of any religious slogans. We are also trying to ascertain the immediate cause of provocation that led to the incident,” added the SP.
Saifi later described his ordeal during a Facebook Live alongside a local Samajwadi Party leader. “I was travelling in an autorickshaw near the (Loni) border when I was abducted by the two men who sat ahead of me. They took me to a jungle area, which was abandoned, and began hitting me. They held me from both sides… I kept begging them to leave and I was chanting a prayer. They asked me if I was taking Allah’s name and told me to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ repeatedly. They hit my back with hunters and kept insisting I should say ‘Jai Shri Ram’,” alleged Saifi in the video.
“I could not bear the pain. They brought a pair of scissors and cut off my beard. I feared for my life. The men recorded the video and told me this is what they would do with Muslims. The assault lasted for nearly four hours after which they let me go,” he alleged.
In the Facebook Live, the man alleged there were five people involved in the assault. The contents of the video is being investigated, said an official.
Saifi, who hails from Anoopshahr and has a small iron scrap business, alleged he was taken to a small abandoned room in the jungle area nearly 2 km away from the main highway.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said: “There was a death in a family on May 19. Due to Ramzan, I could not visit so I decided to go on that day (June 5). It was around 2.30 pm when an auto stopped next to me and they said they would drop me on the canal route… I was alone and they (the men) were many. They were relentless in their beating and kept saying that a message has to be sent to Muslims. I begged them, saying I am old. They cut my beard as well.”
Police said the accused, Pravesh, has cases of assault and theft pending against him in the region. Police said they are looking for the other accused and trying to ascertain if they have links to any outfit.
A police team is also trying to locate eyewitnesses along the route where the alleged abduction and assault took place.
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