- Two dry fruit sellers from Kashmir were beaten up by a group of men
- Residents saved them from attackers, members of a fringe right-wing group
- The attackers have been arrested after videos were widely shared
Twenty years on Lucknow streets had not prepared two traders from Kashmir for the attack they came under yesterday. Mohammed Afzal Naik and Abdul Salaam, who make a living selling dry fruits, were heckled, assaulted and harassed by a group of saffron wearing men, who told them that they were under attack because they were from Kashmir.
"They (attackers) said we are terrorists. We were told that we sell merchandise here and throw stones there. They started thrashing us. They asked for our Aadhaar cards," Mohammed Afzal Naik told the media and the police, reliving the traumatic moments of Wednesday morning.
In the video widely shared on social media, the men, who belong to a right-wing fringe group, were seen slapping, punching and beating him with sticks, loudly abusing him all the while.
The attack was part of the backlash scores of Kashmiris have been facing since a 18-year-old Kashmiri suicide bomber drove an RDX-filled vehicle into a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force in Pulwama, killing 40 men.
The traders were saved by the intervention of a couple of passers-by, who convinced the goons to allow the police to deal with them. "Those people saved us. They're good. They had reached before the police," he said.
Four of the attackers have been arrested since.
"This is a very unfortunate and one-off incident which has happened. We will crack down on such incidents with the entire force of the law. Nobody is above the law and nobody can target innocent citizens like this... The strongest possible action will be taken against those targetting innocent Kashmiris," senior police officer Anand Kumar told NDTV.
The incident in Lucknow comes amid the nationwide backlash on people from the Kashmir Valley following the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama. The alleged harassment had promoted the central government to issue an advisory to the states to ensure their safety.
Last month, the Supreme Court had asked 10 states, including Uttar Pradesh, to take "prompt action" to ensure Kashmiris living across the country do not face social boycott or attacks.