Two Kashmiri students were allegedly attacked by activists of the Shiv Sena's youth wing in Maharashtra's Yavatmal on Wednesday night, becoming the latest incident of the kind to occur after the Pulwama terror attack. A video clip of the assault was widely shared on the social media.
The eight accused were affiliated to the Yuva Sena, which has since taken action against them. Police said they have been arrested on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) filed at a local station.
According to the FIR, the two Kashmiri students of the Dahyabhai Patel Sharirik Shikshan Mahavidyalaya were returning to their rented accommodation from a market in the city's Chintamani Nagar area when they were accosted by the accused between 10-11 pm on Wednesday. They were assaulted and forced to chant Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai to "prove their patriotism", it added.
The students claim that they have been under threat ever since the terror attack took place over a week ago. "We have been living here for the last one-and-a-half years. But they are now forcing us to vacate our rented accommodations in four days. It's difficult to study in such circumstances," one of them told NDTV.
The Yuva Sena condemned the incident, with its president - Aaditya Thackeray - saying that innocents should never be targeted. "As of last evening, the party has sacked those involved in the act. J&K is a part of India and no Indian, or for that matter, nobody should face the brunt of anger that is towards terrorism. We understand the angst but it must be against terror, not innocent people," he tweeted.
As of last evening, the Party has sacked those involved in the act. J&K is a part of India and no Indian, or for that matter, nobody should face the brunt of anger that is towards terrorism. We understand the angst but it must be against terror, not innocent people.— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) February 22, 2019
The Yavatmal police, for its part, promised prompt action in the case. "We have launched an investigation on the basis of a medical examination of the two students," Superintendent of Police M Rajkumar told NDTV.
At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed after a suicide bomber affiliated to the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group rammed a vehicle filled with explosives into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on February 14. Many Kashmiri students studying in institutions across the country complained of harassment in the days that followed, and sources claim that a Kashmiri professor was even forced to resign his position at a Jalandhar university over a fake Facebook post.