Updated: March 14, 2021 8:07:07 am
A 14-year-old Muslim boy was thrashed Thursday for entering a temple to drink water, with the accused making and circulating a video of the brutal assault, during which the boy is slapped and repeatedly kicked in the genitals. After the video was circulated online, Ghaziabad Police took cognizance and arrested two men — the main accused Shringi Nandan Yadav and his associate Shivanand.
“The main accused was arrested shortly after the incident was brought to light. Any person found indulging in anti-social activities will face strict action by the police,” said Kalanidhi Naithani, SSP, Ghaziabad.
The video shows Yadav grabbing hold of the boy’s hand and asking his name and why he was at the temple. The boy tells him his and his father’s name and says he had come to drink water. The accused then slaps the minor repeatedly, kicks him on the groin and continues to assault him.
The temple where the boy was beaten has a board outside which states: “Ye mandir Hinduon ka pavitr sthal hai, yahan Musalmanon ka pravesh varjit hai (This temple is a holy place for Hindus, it is forbidden for Muslims to enter). By order of Narsinghanand Saraswati.”
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The video was initially uploaded on an Instagram handle called Hindu Ekta Sangh, allegedly operated by people known to the accused. The same account, which has now been taken down, also featured another video titled ‘mullon ki pitai’ in which Yadav can be seen harassing a man.
According to police, Yadav hails from Bihar and shifted to Ghaziabad over six months ago. In UP, he was doing “sewa” at Dasna Devi Temple, and identifies himself as a disciple of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, a right-wing preacher and the caretaker of the temple.
A man who volunteers at the temple said: “Shringi, like many others, would stay at the temple for hours. There are a lot of duties that need to be carried out here like distributing prasad or preparing for rituals… It appears the Muslim boy entered the temple despite instructions that they are not allowed. This could have led to the altercation.”
Locals said the board has been up for more than half a decade.
On social media, Shringi has posted photos holding knives, guns and other weapons. His posts also feature inflammatory speeches by Narsinghanand Saraswati.
Police said co-accused Shivanand had recorded the video of the boy’s assault. An FIR has been filed against the two men under IPC sections 504 (intentional insult to provoke peace), 505 (statements conducive to public mischief), 323 (causing hurt) and 352 (assault).
“Yadav shifted to Ghaziabad recently and claims he was involved in temple work. No complaint has been filed against him in the past,” said Kamlesh Narain Pandey, circle officer, Sadar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the boy’s father said: “He was in the area when he felt thirsty. He saw a tap at the temple and began drinking when he was held by them. He was badly beaten up and humiliated. Does water have a religion? I don’t think there is any religion that can refuse water to a thirsty person.”
The family stays in a one-room rented accommodation and the boy occasionally works at shops to add to the family income. “The temple used to be open for everyone, but that has changed over the past few years. We hope our son gets justice and such people do not attack another child,” the father said.
Anil Yadav from the temple management committee said they will help Shringi Yadav with legal aid. “The temple takes full responsibility for the incident. There is a conspiracy; that boy was not alone… People in the area just want to vitiate the atmosphere. We are extending cooperation with police. Shringi is an engineer who lost his job during Covid. He watched our videos and decided to help us in the temple by managing our IT cell. He’s a good man; we will make sure he’s free,” he said.
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