A group of men attacked a resident of Karjat in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district on August 4 – leaving him severely injured – and police are now probing allegations that it was linked to his support to Nupur Sharma, the since-suspended BJP leader whose comments on Prophet Mohammed and Islam two months ago sparked off a row. Four arrests have been made so far, police said.
There has already been a murder in Maharashtra’s Amravati – besides one in Udaipur, Rajasthan – apparently over social media posts supporting Ms Sharma. Karjat saw a bandh on Friday on a call by some Hindu organisations. BJP MLA Nitesh Rane demanded that the case be given to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the other two murders.
The injured man, Prateek Pawar, is admitted to hospital as he received severe blows and cuts. Local police have registered a case of attempted murder and named some of the accused.
Since Mr Pawar has some criminal cases registered against him, police haven’t ruled out personal enmity as the reason.
The FIR says Prateek Pawar and his friend, Amit Mane, were waiting for some other friends by the road when a “12-14 people” arrived there — some in a car, others on motorbikes and scooters. They allegedly abused him over his religion and one of them first attacked him with a sword. Others joined in using knives, sticks and stones, according to Mr Mane.
He said they kept saying “people like you are supporting Nupur Sharma and Kanhaiya Lal (Udaipur murder victim) on social media”. One of the attackers allegedly told Mr Pawar that he’d meet the same fate as that of Umesh Kolhe (Amravati murder victim).
As he bled from the head and fainted, the attackers thought he’s dead, and left, says the FIR, based on his friend’s version of events.
People on the street did not intervene as the attackers were a large group and had weapons, Mr Mane told the police. He said he called other friends and took Mr Pawar to hospital after the attackers left.
Police have named Shahrukh Khan Pathan, Sohail Pathan, Nihal Khan Pathan, Ilail Sheikh, Tipu Pathan, Arbaaz Kasam Pathan, Arshad Pathan and Aqib Syed so far in the case.