Three Muslim clerics were assaulted on a moving train last night, when they were returning to their village in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat from Delhi. “Why do you wear a rumaal (scarf),” one of their attackers allegedly shouted.
The three, who teach at a madrasa, say around 11 pm, they were preparing to get off at their destination when six men in their coach bolted the exits and started beating them, even using an iron rod used as an icepick.
All three have suffered severe wounds and are being treated at the district hospital in Baghpat. The police have not confirmed reports that they were thrown off the train.
It is also not clear whether the attack had communal links.
One of the men, Israr, says when he asked the attackers why they were hitting him, “they said nothing and kept assaulting us”. He added that one of the attackers said “rumaal kyon pehente ho,” apparently referring to the keffiyeh or scarf often worn by Muslim men.
“This has never happened before,” Israr said.
A senior police officer, Jai Prakash, suggested that it could have been a fight over seats, though no evidence so far backs this theory.
Mr Prakash said an assault case has been registered for now because the accused men have not been identified yet.
In June, 16-year-old Junaid Khan died and his cousins were wounded after an assault on a train near Delhi by a mob of 20 that shouted abuses and called them “anti-nationals” and “beef-eaters”. The police had said that the dispute started over seats, and the man who argued with Junaid came back to the train with a mob from his village.