Monday, February 01, 2016

Uttar Pradesh: Bajrang Dal activists ‘tonsure, parade man for conversion bid’

A man was allegedly tonsured, garlanded with shoes and paraded on a donkey by Bajrang Dal activists in Jalaun district of Uttar Pradesh Friday. According to police, the activists believed the man had lured four Hindus — two of them Dalits — into changing their religion.

Police have registered two FIRs in connection with the incident, and arrested five Bajrang Dal workers and the barber who tonsured the man’s head.

Circle Officer, city area, Jung Bahadur Yadav said the man, Awadhesh Kumar, an OBC, was picked up by the activists of Bajrang Dal Friday morning from his house in Redhar village, about 45 kilometres from Orai town. The men had come in a jeep fitted with a hooter and a police sign. Claiming to be policemen, the activists asked Awadhesh to accompany them for questioning. Awadhesh’s family did not raise any objection, the CO said.

Upon reaching Ambedkar crossing around 1.30 pm, Awadhesh was beaten up, police said. Later, a barber was called, who shaved his head, half his moustache and an eyebrow. He was then forced to sit on a donkey, garlanded with shoes and paraded for 150 metres. All this took place as hundreds of people looked on, police said, quoting from the complaint lodged by Awadhesh.

Police suspect the Bajrang Dal activists were contacted by one of the four men Awadhesh had allegedly taken to a Mirzapur church for a conversion bid. “They went to Mirzapur on December 18 and returned on December 23,” said the CO.

Additional Superintendent of Police, Jalaun, Shakeel Ahmed said that three of the men have denied any attempt by Awadhesh to convert them to Christianity. “They admitted to have gone to a church in Mirzapur but said no conversion took place,” said the ASP.

On Saturday, the police arrested five Bajrang Dal workers — Ashu Yadav, Prince Gupta, Karnendra Chauhan, Pradeep and Arun Tiwari — and the barber Ashish. They were produced in court, which sent them to judicial custody, said Station House Officer, Kotwali, Alok Saxena.

The ASP said the arrests were made after going through video clippings of the incident. “We have so far identified eight more Bajrang Dal men, including the outfit’s Jalaun district convenor Akhilesh Dhiya, who is currently absconding,” the ASP said.

The FIR registered against 100-150 unidentified Bajrang Dal men charges them with kidnapping and other offences. Police have also registered a case against Awadhesh for promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion and other charges.

BJP’s Jalaun district president Jagdish Tiwari confirmed the arrest of Bajrang Dal workers but claimed they were innocent. “Police are conducting raids to trace Akhilesh Dhiya so they can arrest him. The police are harassing his family members by taking his brother and mother into illegal custody,” Tiwari alleged.

Janata Dal (United) MP K C Tyagi, meanwhile, condemned the incident and claimed that the Centre has failed to control such outfits.

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