Two members of a vigilante group which allegedly assaulted a Muslim college student over a WhatsApp photo have been arrested.
Police, however, withheld the details of those arrested as an identification parade before assault victim Mohammed Riyaz, 20, is yet to be conducted. Riyaz is a student of Govinda Das College in Surathkal.
Two other students of the college have also been taken into custody for questioning. Vineeth and Rithesh were present in the classroom when the photograph was taken and are suspected to have played a role in leading Riyaz into the hands of the vigilante group.
The photograph shows one Mohammed Swali posing across the laps of five girls in a classroom of the college. Riyaz and Vineeth are also seen in the picture, which was allegedly clicked by Ritesh.
Sources said that the next day someone published the photo on Facebook and Riyaz objected to it. Though the photo was removed from Facebook, it had gone viral on WhatsApp, reportedly with the caption: Hindu Girls Muslim Boy.
Sources said that after the photograph went viral around February 22, some members of a rightwing group began looking for the boys and found Vineeth and Ritesh.
They added that the duo were pressured to identify the other boys in the photograph. While Swali could not be located, the vigilante group used Vineeth and Ritesh to lure Riyaz out of his house. He was then abducted, assaulted and later dumped on the road. Riyaz’s classmates said he was merely sitting on the bench and was not part of the group.
While the five girls and Swali have already been suspended for violating a ban on using mobile phones on campus, college authorities have resisted demands from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad to debar the students. They have decided to wait for Riyaz to return from hospital to decide on the course of action against him. Principal of Govinda Das College Professor K Rajamohan Rao said. “We have asked Mohammed Riyaz to meet us on February 26. After questioning others, we feel he was only a bystander,” he added.