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Beaten And Humiliated For Being A Muslim In India

By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

image sourceANI

image captionA Muslim man was paraded through the streets as his crying daughter begged the mob to stop hitting him

Unprovoked attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs have become routine in India, but they seem to evoke little condemnation from the government.

Last month, a video that went viral on social media showed a terrified little girl clinging to her Muslim father as a Hindu mob assaulted him.

The distressing footage showed the 45-year-old rickshaw driver being paraded through the streets of Kanpur, a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, as his crying daughter begged the mob to stop hitting him.

His attackers asked him to chant “Hindustan Zindabad” or “Long Live India” and “Jai Shri Ram” or “Victory to Lord Ram” – a popular greeting that’s been turned into a murder cry by Hindu lynch mobs in recent years.

He complied, but the mob still kept hitting him. The man and his daughter were eventually rescued by the police. Three men arrested for the attack were freed on bail a day later.

A few days later, another viral video surfaced showing a Muslim bangle-seller being slapped, kicked and punched by a Hindu mob in Indore, a city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The attackers could be heard abusing Tasleem Ali and telling him to stay away from Hindu areas in future.

In a police complaint, he later alleged that he had been “beaten by five-six men who hurled communal slurs at him for selling bangles in a Hindu-dominated area and robbed him of money, his phone and some documents”.

But in a strange turn of events, Ali himself was arrested the next day after the 13-year-old daughter of one of his alleged attackers accused him of molesting her. His family and neighbours have strongly denied the accusation. They said it was inconceivable that the father of five would do something like that.

And eyewitnesses, quoted in the Indian press, said he was attacked because of his religious identity and the molestation accusation against him seemed to be an afterthought.

The two attacks were among several instances of anti-Muslim violence in August, but the last month by no means was cruellest for India’s biggest religious minority group, with a population of more than 200 million.

image sourceGetty Images

image captionCritics say anti-Muslim violence has risen sharply since 2014 under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Similar attacks were reported in the preceding months too – and many made headlines.

“The violence is overwhelming. It’s rampant and common and also very acceptable,” says Alishan Jafri, a freelance journalist who’s been documenting attacks on Indian Muslims for the past three years.

He says he comes across “three-four such videos every day” but is able to verify only one or two which he then shares on social media.

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