U’khand village tense after two held over bid to abduct minor

May 31, 2023 12:05 AM IST

The protest on Monday — which was supported by local Vyapar Mandal (market union) by observing a bandh — turned violent after some protesters attacked shops

Dehradun: Tension was palpable at Purola town in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district a day after hundreds of people, including members of Hindu right-wing groups, staged a protest against an abduction attempt on a minor girl by two men, one of them a Muslim, people familiar with the development said on Tuesday.

On May 27, the two accused were arrested. (Representational image)
On May 27, the two accused were arrested. (Representational image)

The protest on Monday — which was supported by local Vyapar Mandal (market union) by observing a bandh — turned violent after some protesters attacked shops and establishments of Muslim community. Following the incident, some Muslim families have reportedly shifted to other places.

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“We are trying to identify the protesters who attacked shops owned by Muslims during the protest on Monday,” Uttarkashi superintendent of police (SP) Arpan Yaduvanshi said. “Strict action will be taken against them.”

The protest was held days after two men were arrested for allegedly attempting to kidnap a 14-year-old girl. Local traders have blamed people from a “particular community” who come from outside for business for rise in such cases.

On May 26, a minor girl (14) sought direction to the local bus station from the two accused, said Khajan Singh Chauhan, in-charge, Purola police station. “They took the girl near a petrol pump away from the main market area and called an auto-rickshaw. Sensing something amiss, a passerby raised an alarm following which the accused fled the spot,” Chauhan said.

Following the incident, a case under sections 363 (kidnapping), 366A (Procuration of minor girl) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act was registered at Purola police station on the same day.

On May 27, the two accused — identified as Ubed Khan (24), a local shopkeeper, and Jitender Saini (23), a motorcycle mechanic, were arrested, he said. “Further investigation in the matter is underway.”

On Monday, protesters handed a memorandum to Purola sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), seeking verification of people coming from outside for business in the town.

“In the garb of trade in town, some people from a particular community have been indulged in immoral activities, such as drugs business, thereby polluting the atmosphere,” the memorandum in Hindi, seen by HT, said.

Durgeshwar Lal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Purola, said he would bring up the matter with chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.

“I condemn the recent incident in which a man from a particular community was trying to abduct a minor girl. It’s not enough that he is behind bars now. Similar incidents have happened in the past too,” said Lal.

“They are trying to disturb the harmony of the town. They come to town for trade and many from the same community follow them. It appears to be a conspiracy,” he alleged.

Virender Rana, a member of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu right-wing outfit, alleged, “Immoral activities are being carried out in our town by a particular community in the name of trade. They have settled here in recent years. A verification drive should be conducted to check their identity.”

Meanwhile, several Muslim families have reportedly left the town temporarily and moved to other places.

Saleem (35), a garment-shop owner in Purola, has moved to his brother’s house in Dehradun. “We are being pressurised to leave the town permanently. A criminal has no caste and religion. We don’t support him. The whole community shouldn’t be targeted for the act of one person,” he said. “We got fearful that we may get attacked. My three daughters were crying. We didn’t feel safe there… Like us, around 30 families have left the town in fear. Only a few families from our community are living there now.”

Uttarkashi SP Arpan Yaduvanshi, however, denied reports of Muslim families leaving the town. “It’s not true that Muslim families have left the town. The law-and-order situation is under control. If any family left on a personal level, we can’t say anything about it,” Yaduvanshi said.

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