Tension prevailed in Khoda locality, situated on the border of Ghaziabad, Delhi and Noida after a Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) city unit member was allegedly attacked by 7-8 people late Sunday night. The victim has alleged that the assailants, who also live in the same area, targeted him because he had reported against an illegal construction at a local mosque.
Police, however, rejected any communal angle to the incident and said it might be a case of road rage.
The incident took place at 11.15pm on Sunday when Rakesh Kumar Garg was headed to his Anil Vihar home on his two-wheeler. He was allegedly cornered by one Sanjay Malik and others in their SUV.
Garg’s brother Sonu said the assailants did not spare his brother despite the fact that he had lost his one leg in an earlier accident. “My brother has an artificial leg. They beat him up with hockey and rods. They also fired upon local residents who rushed to rescue my brother. Two -- Vikas Mishra and Abhishek Mishra -- were shot,” Sonu said.
The victims were rushed to Kailash Hospital in Noida.
“I believe I was attacked because of the complaint (related to mosque). The attackers had earlier threatened me, and on Sunday night at around 11:15pm, they intercepted me in an SUV,” said Rakesh.
In the FIR, Garg alleged that he had complained to the police a couple of days ago about an attempt to extend construction of a mosque in nearby Deepak Vihar. The mosque is located barely 300 metres from the scene of crime.
“On his complaint, to the circle officer got the construction work stopped and action was taken against those involved in the illegal building activity,” said Deepak Kumar, senior superintendent of police, Ghaziabad.
“Although the victim has alleged that the issue is related to a mosque, we suspect that it was a road rage incident in which one group was beaten up by others. Since both belong to different communities, rumour mongers sent out circulated messages on social media,” he said.
The SSP said four people, Riyaz Malik, Nadeem, Rahul Malik and Syed Mohammad have been arrested.
SSP Kumar said that Rakesh had also told them that one of the accused is part of the mosque’s managing committee. “We are probing this. Further, we will also book those who spread rumours on social media. We got number of calls from Lucknow and had to explain time and again that there is no communal flare up in the area,” he added.
The VHP and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders condemned the attack and visited Khoda and Kailash Hospital. They demanded immediate arrest of all the accused and threatened agitation. The local traders’ association also downed shutter to protest the attack.
“The police are trying to dilute the issue by terming it road rage. The helpless victim was cornered by the attackers near his house. The police should nab the accused and provide security to victim’s family,” said Umanandan Kaushik, VHP’s city president.
Khoda has an estimated population of nearly 8 lakh. Gauging the sensitivity, police and PCR vans remained deployed. Officials of the local intelligence units also visited the scene of crime and the mosque area to gather information.