A 25-year-old man was allegedly beaten up, abused and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” in the Diva area of Thane on Monday. The three accused, all residents of Agasan village in Diva, were arrested by the police on Tuesday and have been remanded in police custody.
Faisal Usman Khan (25) has been working as a driver for a cab aggregator company since December 2018. On Monday morning, around 3 am, Khan was on his way to Mumbai after picking up passengers from the Manav Kalyan Hospital in Diva when the car broke down.
“I switched on the parking lights and was trying to restart the car when three men on a scooter came from behind and started banging the windows,” Khan recounted. “They were reeking of alcohol and wanted to know why I had stopped my vehicle in the middle of the road,” he added.
The accused then allegedly took the keys of the car, dragged Khan and one of the passengers out and started abusing them. “… the men also started abusing me for my religion and said that if I chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ loudly, they will let me go,” Khan said.
The accused then took his mobile phone and fled after one of the passengers called the police, Khan said.
When Khan registered a complaint with the police on Monday, he just told them about the physical violence and the theft of his phone. “I was in shock and was worried about the repercussions on my family. However, I later told senior officers at the police station the whole story. They assured me that I had nothing to fear,” Khan said. He then narrated the entire incident, including being forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, in his statement to the police on Tuesday.
In his statement to the police, Khan said, “The accused started hitting me with wires and when I screamed out loud ‘Ya Allah’, I was told to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ if I wanted to be spared.”
The Mumbra police registered an FIR against the three men on Tuesday under sections 295 (a) (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 392 (Punishment for robbery), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, police said.
“The victim had noted down the registration number of the bike, which helped us trace the accused. The bike belonged to Jaideep Mundhe (26), who was riding it that day. We also arrested Mangesh Mundhe (30) and Anil Suryawanshi (22). All of them are residents of Agasan village. The accused don’t have any previous cases against them,” said a senior officer from Thane police.
Thane police commissioner Vivek Phansalkar said, “Based on the content of the complaint, we have registered an offence and have also included the section for insulting and hurting religious beliefs. The three accused have been arrested by the police and are in our custody. Further investigation is going on.”
For Khan, whose mobile phone and car are still with the police, the incident came as a shock.
“We had heard of incidents like this on news and social media. But it has happened to me now and I am scared… But, the police have been very cooperative and helpful,” he said.
The incident comes days after the death of Tabrez Ansari, a youth in Jharkhand, who was allegedly beaten to death by a mob. Ansari (22) was allegedly forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman” in Jharkhand’s Saraikela Kharsawan district.