Khoda, bordering Ghaziabad, Noida and Delhi, remained tense after three VHP activists were shot at in Anil Vihar on Sunday night allegedly by a group who were irked by their objection to construction of a mosque.
Police, however, said they were yet to verify the victims’ claims regarding the mosque, and maintained that it was a road-rage incident as the victims had not given way to the attackers’ SUV.
As saffron activists swarmed the hospital where the victims were undergoing treatment, a posse of policemen were deployed to maintain normalcy in the area.
Among the victims, Vikas Mishra (28) suffered bullet injuries on his head and leg, his brother Abhishek Mishra (24) was shot on his left leg whereas Rakesh Kumar (36), a property dealer in Khoda, claimed he was thrashed with hockey sticks and cricket bats as he had filed a complaint against the “illegal” mosque construction in Deepak Vihar of Khoda village on Friday.
“I believe I was attacked because of that complaint. The attackers had earlier threatened me, and on Sunday night at around 11:15pm, they intercepted me in an SUV and started beating me with hockey sticks and bats on my head and hands,” he said.
“My brother and Rakesh were being attacked by masked men. When I tried to intervene, they held me at gunpoint and threatened to kill me. Later, they shot me in the leg,” said Abhishek.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Ghaziabad, Deepak Kumar said on Rakesh’s complaint, they had stopped the construction.
“Action under section 107/116 of CrPC was taken against those trying to erect the structure without any permission,” he said, adding that the attack on the three VHP men was the result of an altercation between the accused and the victims over giving way to the SUV of the accused.
“Till late night, the issue was only of road rage while in the morning, the victim claimed that one member of the accused group was a member of the mosque committee. We are yet to verify their claims,” he said.
An FIR was lodged against one person while 7-8 unnamed persons were also mentioned. Four persons had been arrested till Sunday night, police said.
Noting that even the social media was abuzz with rumours of communal tension, the SSP said police would file an an FIR against those spreading rumours.
However, VHP’s city president Umanandan Kaushik denied the police claims of road rage incident, saying police was trying to divert from the “core issue”.
“The attack was planned. We demand immediate arrest of the accused persons and security for the victims and their family members,” Kaushik said.
On Monday afternoon, BJP MLA Sunil Sharma visited the hospital and demanded swift action.
VB Joshi, spokesperson of Kailash Hospital, said the three men were being kept under observation in intensive care units.
Some agitated supporters of RSS and VHP also tried to shut the Deepak Vihar market on Monday morning as a mark of protest.
Since Khoda is a mixed population area, police have deployed personnel to prevent escalation of tension. Senior officials also arrived at Khoda.
(With inputs from Vinit in Noida)