A group of students from a madrasa in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district have alleged that they were thrashed by members of a right-wing group after they refused to chant "Jai Shri Ram". Police say two of the accused have been detained; they are investigating further investigations are being conducted.
The children, who are between 10 and 15 years old, were playing cricket at a local ground when they were allegedly attacked by four older boys.
"Four boys came and asked our boys to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. Our boys refused. Then they snatched bats and stumps and started assaulting the kids. The kids ran for their lives but these people started pelting stones," Naeem Isbahi, the complainant in the case told NDTV.
"Someone's head was smashed. A cycle was broken. They also snatched cash from the boys. This is religious fanaticism. I don't know where they were from but at least one of the boys seems to be from the Bajrang Dal," he added.
The police have registered a case in connection with the incident and have also identified one of the accused as Aditya Shukla, who claims on his Facebook page that he works for the BJP.
The local unit of the party unit has not confirmed this claim.
The police say the fight broke out over playing cricket on the ground.
"Yesterday at around 3:30 pm, some children from the Darul Uloom Madrasa were playing cricket at the GIC ground. Four boys of the other side assaulted these children and they sustained some injuries. A complaint against three named and one unknown persons has been registered. We have arrested two of them. After initial investigation, we have found no evidence that Jai Shri Ram slogans were chanted," MP Verma, the Unnao police chief, said.
While the police conduct their investigation, alleged members of right-wing groups have given the authorities an ultimatum - release the accused or face protests. They claim the incident was nothing more than a dispute over who would get to play on the ground.
This is not the first time members of the Muslim community have been targeted by people forcing them to chant "Jai Shri Ram".
On July 4 a Kanpur auto driver alleged that a group of men locked him up in a washroom and pelted stones for refusing to chant the slogan.
With inputs from IANS
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