Five people have been arrested for beating up a Muslim priest returning home late Sunday night after prayers, even as the friend, who was riding pillion on his motorbike and fled during the attack, said the attack was sudden and brutal, and the assailants fled just as quickly.
Officer-in-charge of Nagri police station Ram Narayan Singh said, “We have arrested five people. The attack was sudden, and the reason is being ascertained. As far as the allegation that they (victims) were asked to chant the name of a (Hindu) God is concerned, it is still being probed.”
Ranchi SSP Kuldweep Dwivedi could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
A police officer said the accused have confessed to having assaulted the priest, Azhar-ul-Islam, in his mid-20s, who has been working as a maulana at Agdu basti mosque in Ratu, in Jharkhand district, for the last one year.
According to the victim’s childhood friend Mohammad Imran, a maulana at a Delhi mosque who has come home on Ramzan break, the assailants attacked Azhar after demanding that he say “Jai Shri Ram”.
Imran said, “When we crossed Daladali Chowk on Ring Road, around 4 km from Agdu, we saw two vehicles — a dark-coloured Scorpio and a white smaller car. We did not make much of it but by the time we reached the petrol pump, barely 500 metres from the Chowk, the white vehicle overtook us and stopped. Four people got off, carrying hockey sticks and rods.”
Imran said Azhar was riding at a speed of 30-40 km when one of them shouted Bolo Jai Shri Ram.
“Before we could even realise what was happening, or reply, one of them hit Azhar hard on his face with a hockey stick. We fell off the bike. While they started hitting Azhar, I ran away. They chased me for a while but gave up,” Imran said.
Passersby later took Azhar to a hospital nearby. From there, he was referred to Medica Hospital in Ranchi.
At their home in Naya Sarai, Azhar’s father Nazarul Islam, originally from Purulia in West Bengal and settled in Ranchi since 1970, said, “I had started an English medium school for our children. I was also a maulana but now I have retired. Everyone in Naya Sarai know me. There has never been any problems in all these years with anybody. Now, suddenly, this happens to my son.”