The men who assaulted and stabbed a Muslim cleric and two others on a Delhi-Shamli passenger train on Wednesday night allegedly mocked them over their skull caps and scarves, and told them: “Topi pehenta hai? Topi pehenna hum sikhaenge (You wear caps? We will teach you to wear caps).”
“They stabbed us with ice picks… I don’t even know what the trigger was… But during the fight, we realised that our skull caps and scarves had irked them,” Mohammad Israr, the cleric’s 20-year-old nephew, told The Indian Express in Chauhalda village on Friday. According to the medical report, Israr suffered the worst injuries — he received stab injuries on his back, scalp and hands. Also Read: Muslim cleric, his two relatives beaten up in train in UP: FIR
Israr said he, his uncle, cleric Mohammad Gulzar (30), and two other youths, Abu Bakr (17) and Mohammed Momin (18), had gone to Delhi for the first time, to see the Jama Masjid and Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. All of them, he said, were “very excited”. On their return journey, on board a Shamli-bound passenger train from Old Delhi Railway Station, they were allegedly assaulted by seven men.
“The men were sitting in the compartment next to ours… We were about to deboard the train at Aheda when one of them blocked our path. They shut the windows… and suddenly started assaulting us. We kept asking what the problem was. We couldn’t understand what had provoked them. While they were assaulting us, one of them said, ‘Topi pehenta hai? Topi pehenna hum sikhaenge (You wear caps? We will teach you to wear caps).’ That’s when we realised it was about our religion,” said Gulzar. “We often heard of such arguments over our faith, but never thought we’d be at the centre of one,” he said.
Gulzar said the train halted at Aheda for half-a-minute, during which the assault continued. Just as the train started to move, the attackers reportedly pulled the emergency chain, deboarded and ran off towards Sunehra village.
According to Gulzar, none of the other passengers came forward to help. “They kept watching…I will never travel on a train to Delhi again,” he said. Gulzar and the others got off at the next station, Baghpat, and called their relatives. They went to the police station and filed a complaint, after which they were taken for a medical check-up, he said.
Dr Yatish Kumar, Medical Superintendent of the Community Health Centre at Baghpat, said three persons were brought to the Emergency ward soon after midnight on Wednesday. “Israr had 13 injuries on his body and five puncture or penetrative wounds. It seems that a sharp object like ice pick was used for inflicting the injuries. Gulzar had four puncture wounds, while Abu Bakr had two puncture wounds,” he said.
No arrests had been made till Friday evening. Circle Officer, Baghpat, Dilip Singh, said “there may have been a trigger” for the assault. He did not, however, specify what this “trigger” could be. “We have questioned several people and police have been deployed at various stations for leads on the accused,” said Singh.