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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Bangle-seller attacked in Indore booked for ‘harassment’

On a complaint by the minor daughter of one of the accused, Tasleem Ali was booked Monday evening under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman), 354-A (sexual harassment), 467, 468, 471 (forgery), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation), along with under POCSO.

Written by Iram Siddique | Bhopal |
Updated: August 23, 2021 11:24:56 pm
Tasleem AliTasleem Ali, who was beaten up on Sunday for allegedly concealing his identity while selling bangles in an Indore locality

POLICE have booked Tasleem Ali, who was beaten up on Sunday for allegedly concealing his identity while selling bangles in an Indore locality, on charges of harassment. In a video that went viral on social media, the 25-year-old was seen being beaten up by men who accused him of harassing women on the pretext of selling bangles on the occasion of Rakhi, and warning him to not set foot again in a “Hindu kshetra (area)”.

On a complaint by the minor daughter of one of the accused, Ali was booked Monday evening under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman), 354-A (sexual harassment), 467, 468, 471 (forgery), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation), along with under POCSO.

This was hours after police had detained three people over Sunday’s attack on Ali.

Ali’s younger brother Jamal Ali told The Indian Express that police had taken him away at 5 pm and he had not returned till Monday night. “Officials from Banganga Police Station came to Musafirkhana where we are staying, and told us Tasleem needed to be taken for some formalities and would be back in an hour. He isn’t back even five hours later, and we are not able to contact him,” Jamal said.

Police officers, including IGP Harinarayan Chari Mishra, SP Ashutosh Bagri and Town Inspector Rajendra Soni of Banganga Police Station did not respond to texts or calls seeking to know Ali’s whereabouts.

Amid protests by a Muslim organisation over delay in registration of an FIR in the attack on Ali, Home Minister Narottam Mishra told the media in Bhopal Monday, “As per the report of the Home Department, the man was selling bangles using a Hindu name while he was from some other religion. There were two Aadhaar cards on him.” He added, “There is a ritual of women wearing bangles during saawan… the issue between two sides started from there.”

In the complaint she filed against Ali, the girl has alleged he came to their house around 2 pm Sunday, when her father was away, and identified himself as Golu, showing a “half-burnt” Aadhaar card. “We began purchasing bangles from him. As my mother went to fetch money, the bangle-seller looked at me in an indecent way and grabbed my hand, saying ‘I’ll help you wear bangles’. He also inappropriately touched my cheeks.”

She claimed she screamed, and Ali threatened to kill her and ran away, which is when locals chased him.

A father of five from Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi district, Ali told The Indian Express earlier Monday that he buys bangles from Jaipur and has been coming to Indore for six years to sell them during Rakhi, with around 40 others from his village. He went to the Indore locality where he was attacked for the first time.

“As soon as I called out for buyers, a man grabbed me and asked my name. First, I told him ‘Bhura’, the name on my voter ID card. When he asked if I was a Muslim and I said yes, he again asked for my name. I hesitated and then said, Tasleem. He started beating me up, asking how I could come to their area. He called some other people and they too hit me… They said how had I come to the locality despite being a Muslim, and that I was misbehaving with their mother and sisters,” Ali said, adding that residents of the area looked on.

In the video, a man can be seen taking out bangles from Tasleem’s bag and offering them to people, as another holds him by the collar and hits him, while he pleads with them to let him go. They also threaten Ali to not henceforth be seen in any “Hindu kshetra”.

When the men urge those in the crowd to hit Ali too, four people come forward, and land blows, while abusing him.

Ali said the men broke his cellphone, and took the approximately Rs 10,000 cash on him as well as his bags containing bangles worth Rs 25,000.

“They only stopped when a man asked who would be responsible if I died in front of his house. I fled and went straight to the police station,” Ali told The Indian Express.

According to Ali, police didn’t take anything down but sent two constables with him to the locality. Ali said residents told police that Bajrang Dal men had beaten him up for no fault of his. “One of the people showed police the video of the attack. They then went to the house of one of the attackers. He handed over my money and belongings.”

An FIR was only registered at 11 pm Sunday against unidentified people, at Indore’s Central Kotwali Police Station. SP, Indore East, Ashutosh Bagri said there was no delay. “After Tasleem approached police, two constables were sent with him. Tasleem himself refused to register an FIR initially. It was in the night that he approached with a complaint, and an FIR was registered under 19 Sections of the IPC, including dacoity.”

By Monday afternoon, police had detained Rakesh Pawar, Rajkumar Bhatnagar and Vivek Vyas for the attack. Police said they would question the three and arrest them after the video had been verified. On their “political affiliation”, Bagri said, “For us it is an incident where a bangle-seller was beaten by a group of men. Who these men are and what their political affiliation is and if they belong to a particular party is a different issue.”

Police also registered a case against three members of the Muslim Nuamainda Committee that gheraoed the police station Sunday, on charges of wrongful restraint, rioting, use of obscene words and criminal intimidation. While police claimed a ruckus was created at the police station and the protest was organised by “anti-social elements”, the Committee said they were protesting peacefully demanding an FIR over the attack on Ali.

Bagri said they were also looking into why Ali had two Aadhaar cards and a voter ID card under different names, including the mention of both Mohar Singh and Mohar Ali in place of father’s name.

Ali denied he had two Aadhaar cards or had tried to hide his identity. He said ‘Bhura’, the name on his voter ID card, was his nickname, while his formal name was on the Aadhaar card.

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