Even as the left-liberal lobby gave a communal spin to outrage over the Muzaffarnagar school incident, another episode of a man attacked for wearing his identity on his sleeve did not elicit the kind of reaction it deserved. Earlier this week, a minor victim lodged a formal complaint with the police after being assaulted for sporting a ‘Tilak’ in the Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh, India, a report published in Organiser said.
The assaulters were identified as Qasim and Ejaz, who attacked the victim on August 22 and later absconded after a complaint was filed by the victim.
The victim reportedly faced slurs for wearing a Tilak outside the Panchayat office in Dhamava village of the Kaushambi district. When he responded to the insults hurled at him, the victim was subjected to physical assault.
A “tilak” is a symbolic mark and typically applied on the forehead, often centered at the ajna chakra (also known as the third eye or spiritual eye). It can also be found on other body parts like the neck, hand, chest, or arm.
According to the First Information Report (FIR 368/2023), the victim happens to be a 13-year-old boy. The victim detailed in his report that he was verbally attacked and physically assaulted by Qasim and Ejaz for choosing to sport a Tilak.
The victim was asked by the assailants to visit mosques and offer namaz instead of wearing a tilak. They even induced him with Rs 50 per day for embracing Islam. However, when he passed up their offer, they not only physically assaulted him but also pilfered money and damaged his mobile phone.
Ramendra Mishra, the leader of Mukhya Morcha in the village, submitted the formal complaint, the Organiser report said. In his concluding remarks within the letter, Mishra noted the presence of an unlawful madarsa being operated within the village. This Madarsa is being run from the residence of an individual named Shabbir Ahmed. Mishra warned that unless appropriate measures are taken against the assalaints, there will be widespread protests in the town.
Subsequent to the filed complaint, the individuals in question were charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code: 323 (intentionally causing harm), 427 (committing mischief causing damage), and 392 (penalty for robbery), along with sections 3 and 5(1) of the Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act.
On August 24, Organiser contacted Chandra Bhushan More, the officer in charge at Saini police station. More conveyed that ongoing investigations are being conducted in this matter, and the suspects will be apprehended shortly. Currently, they are on the run, he said.
Gyanesh Kashyap, the victim’s older brother, employed at a private firm in Gurgaon, narrated the ordeal his sibling had to endure. Kashyap stated that when the accused noticed his broter was wearing a tilak, they subjected him to verbal abuse, provoking a retort from him and leading to the ensuing altercation. Local residents intervened to bring the situation under control.
He explained, “Our colony is predominantly inhabited by Muslim residents, with only two Hindu families, including ours. I reside here, my mother is employed at the Anganwadi, and my sister is a student in 12th grade. Given the current circumstances surrounding this case, there’s no one to care for them. My father resides in the village.”
Priyank Kanoongo, the Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), was also informed about the incident and who provided assurance of prompt and committed action.
Kanoongo mentioned his intention to draft a letter addressed to the Superintendent of Police’s office, ensuring that the wrongdoers are held accountable through appropriate consequences.