Apologizing with folded hands and holding an Indian flag, a 19-year old Kashmiri youth raised slogans of ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ outside division number 3 police station of Ludhiana Friday.
Surrounded by the activists from a fringe group, called ‘Mahadev Sena’, the youth raised the slogans after a police complaint was filed against him for allegedly saying that “we will blow up entire India”.
The entire drama that unfolded outside division number 3 police station of Ludhiana on Friday, in presence of police, was fallout of a light-hearted conversation that happened between the youth, who works at a dhaba (eatery) and a pan-shop owner Thursday night.
Lucky Kapoor, head of Mahadev Sena who lives in the same area, after getting to know about the ‘anti-national words uttered by the youth’ called Police Control Room (PCR) and went to the dhaba where he works. He recorded a video confronting him, made him apologize on camera and filed a complaint with the police.
The police took him to police station for questioning where he was allegedly kept till 3 am and then released. On Friday morning, surrounded by right-wing activists who brought Indian flag along, he was made to raise the slogans of Hindustan Zindabad and apologize with folded hands. He was also made to give a written apology which was submitted to police.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the youth, who has been working at the eatery for the last three years – his father is a small-time shawl dealer – said it all began with a light-hearted conversation between him and the pan stall owner.
“I do not have any hard feelings against India. Last night, I was talking to the nearby pan stall owner. He jokingly said that I am a terrorist and must leave Punjab. He said that I should go back to Kashmir to which I replied ‘why should I go back’. He said, ‘because you all are terrorists’. To that I replied ‘Okay then we will blow up entire India’. Wo hamare bhai jaisa hai (Even he is like my brother) and we both were joking. It was just an instant reaction to what he said. We talk like this on daily basis but suddenly after some time, a man entered there and started making our video. He came with policemen and told me to apologize. To prevent the situation from turning ugly, my father and others told me to apologize and I did it there and then. But I was taken to the police station. India is our country too. We do not want to go to Pakistan.”
Asked if he was forced to chant Hindustan Zindabad slogans on Friday morning, he denied but said, “I was kept in police station till 3 am and then released. We were called again on Friday morning and then I myself said that I am ready to say Hindustan Zindabad. I was told to hold Indian flag by people there and I did. We live here, earn here…I accept that I uttered some words which I should not have. Police did not harm me or touch me but I was asked to give a written apology that such words won’t be uttered again and I did. My father is a very simple and poor man. I do not want any trouble for him or my family.”
Abdul Samad, a local leader of Kashmiris living in Ludhiana, said that Kashmiris have been living here for decades and never faced any problem.
“We have always been welcomed and accepted by locals. Whatever the youth said last night was after provocation as they had a light-hearted argument. It was an issue created out of nothing but still we made him apologize. He agreed to raise slogans of Hindustan Zindabad holding the flag,” he said to The Indian Express.
Lucky Kapoor, head of Mahadev Sena said that they ‘forgave’ the boy after his family said that he was ‘just a kid’ and apologized.
“His family said that he is just a kid and whatever he said was slip of tongue. We decided not to get an FIR registered after he gave written apology, chanted Hindustan Zindabad on road outside police station and raised Indian flag.”
Inspector Kamaldeep Singh, SHO division number 3 police station, in whose presence entire drama unfolded, denied detaining youth till 3 am Thursday night.
“We did not detain him till 3 am. No one touched him or said a word. Both parties reached an agreement after youth gave in written that he apologizes for his words and won’t repeat them ever. Our probe showed that it all started with a minor argument between him and a local pan stall owner. He raised slogans of Hindustan Zindabad with Indian flag in his hand at his own will. No one harmed or forced him. We were present there.”