A MUSLIM couple was among passengers assaulted by at least seven members of the Gauraksha Samiti at Khirkiya railway station, in Harda district of Madhya Pradesh, when they objected to their luggage being searched on suspicion that they were carrying beef, police said.
Police said the right-wing activists claimed to have seized “beef” from a bag during the “raid” on the general compartment of the Kushinagar Express on Wednesday before laboratory tests proved it was buffalo meat.
Police have arrested two members of the Samiti — identified as Hemant Rajput and Santosh — who claimed they acted on a tip-off about beef being transported by some passengers.
Nine local residents, including at least one relative of the couple, were also arrested and released on bail after they engaged in a scuffle with the Samiti members on the platform.
Speaking to The Indian Express, 43-year-old Mohammed Hussain said he and his 38-year-old wife Naseema Bano were on way to their hometown in Harda after visiting an ailing relative in Hyderabad, when they were assaulted.
“They pushed my wife around when she objected to our luggage being searched. We live in India and know what is wrong and right, we eat only goat meat. Besides, the black bag from which the meat was seized did not belong to us. Finally, a constable came to our rescue and saved my wife,” said Hussain.
They misbehaved with my wife & other passengers. Can recognize them by their faces. Police arrested 2- Mohd. Hussain pic.twitter.com/vQStep72F8
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 15, 2016
He also alleged that he was beaten up by the Samiti members on the platform after he “abused them when they misbehaved with my wife”.
Describing the sequence of events — the couple had stopped over for a night at another relative’s house in Khandwa — Hussain said he was standing near the door of the “crowded compartment” while his wife was given a seat by other passengers, when the activists started their search.
“When some passengers objected to their luggage being turned upside down, the activists roughed them up before they started searching the bags kept near Naseema. When she objected, they pushed her towards the toilet. Then, I called a relative who lives near the station. He rushed over with other local residents and engaged in a scuffle with the samiti members,” said Hussain.
“The samiti members threw several bags on to the platform to inspect their contents before they found the black bag. The owners of that bag were not found,” he said.
When contacted, K Richhariya, Assistant Sub-Inspector (Khirkiya police station), said the contents of the bag were tested at a local laboratory which confirmed they were pieces of buffalo meat.
Itarsi railway police station in-charge D K Joshi said Rajput and Santosh were sent to jail and a search launched for at least five other members of the samiti.
The arrested duo has been booked under sections 294 (obscene language), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC and Section 153 of the Railways Act (endangering safety of passengers travelling by railway by willful act or omission).
Police have also registered a case under Section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle.) of the IPC against two unknown persons to whom the bag belonged.
Harda MLA Ramkishore Dogne, meanwhile, alleged that the administration had lodged the complaint against local relatives of Hussain under pressure from the Bajrang Dal and VHP. “First, they were harassed, then a complaint lodged against their relatives,’’ the Congress legislator alleged.