Suspected members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini allegedly lynched an elderly Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr, the latest charge of vigilantism against the right-wing group founded by chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Police said the suspects were enraged over a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl eloping last week and thrashed 55-year-old Gulam Mohammad on Tuesday when he was unable to divulge details of the absconding couple.
The deputy inspector general of Meerut visited the spot and ordered local police to arrest the suspects immediately. The deceased man’s son lodged an FIR mentioning six unidentified Vahini men.
“Three accused have been arrested and the hunt is on for the main accused,” said Jagdish Sharma, superintendent of police (rural) of Bulandshahar. Police are probing if the three men belong to the Vahini.
The group has denied any involvement and blamed policemen close to the previous Samajwadi Party administration for trying to malign the Vahini.
“If anyone was found involved, they would be expelled from the Vahini. Our leaders and activists are disciplined soldiers and they cannot be involved in this kind of violence,”said Nagendra Tomar, divisional president of the group.
Tomar blamed an Urdu TV journalist for provoking the complainant and said the local police didn’t investigate properly.
Last month, Vahini members were accused of barging into a Muslim man’s house in Meerut and thrashing him after finding him allegedly in a compromising condition with a Hindu woman. Adityanath, who founded the right-wing organisation in 2002, has said he wouldn’t tolerate any vigilantism or actions that broke the law.
Local residents in Sohi village, near Pahasu in Bulandshahr district, said the Muslim man worked in Saudi Arabia and came to the village on April 11 for vacations. He fell in love with a Hindu woman and eloped on April 27, triggering tensions in the area, they added. Angry Hindu families in the area were allegedly mounting pressure on the four Muslim families to help trace the couple.
On Tuesday, five or six Vahini members arrived in the village to question Muslim families and allegedly threatened them with dire consequences if the couple wasn’t found soon, police said. When they were walking out of the village, they saw Gulam sitting and asked him about the whereabouts of the couple.
When he refused to answer, the group allegedly began thrashing the elderly man, who was rushed to hospital but died on the way. His death sparked communal tensions in the area and his son lodged an FIR against Vahini members. Gulam’s son told HT over the phone that the Muslim families had tried their best to trace the couple but failed.