Bhopal: Ex-BJP MLA, 16 Others Held on V-Day for Love Jihad Attacks

Former BJP MLA Surendra Nath Singh was among those arrested for acts of vandalism on Valentine’s Day.

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India
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Seventeen people, including a former BJP MLA, were arrested in Bhopal on Valentine’s Day for two incidents of vandalism. Two groups of people charged into a hookah bar and a restaurant on Sunday, 14 February, and accused the owners of promoting ‘love jihad’.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Bhopal DIG Irshad Wali said, “Based on the complaint and all those who were identified, we have arrested 17 people, including ex-MLA Surendra Nath Singh.”

The attackers, who were carrying saffron flags and chanting slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ identified themselves as workers of the BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and Shiv Sena.

One group of BYJM workers forced themselves into Junkyard Cafe in Bhopal’s Shyamla Hills, harassed customers and destroyed the cafe’s property.

In his police complaint, the manager of the cafe, Narendra Kumar, said that around eight people, armed with bats and hockey sticks, barged into the cafe around noon and began abusing the customers and allegedly misbehaved with the staff. They also broke the furniture inside the cafe, The Indian Express reported.

“The men accused us of promoting love jihad, saying ‘You people encourage ‘love jihad’. This is just the trailer. If you are seen inside the cafe again, we will kill you,” The Indian Express quoted his statement.

In another instance of vandalism, a group of ten people, including three women, barged into the Cowboy Restro Bar near Bittan market and vandalised the establishment.

A 28-year-old man identified as Rahul Yadav said in his complaint that the group, whose members said they were workers of the Shiv Sena, began verbally abusing customers at the restaurant.

“My workers in the restaurant and I tried to intervene, and during the process, we also suffered minor injuries. They damaged the furniture inside and then left,” he added, The Indian Express reported.

According to the police, many assailants said they were affiliated with Surendra Nath Singh, Bhopal South West’s ex-BJP MLA.

Earlier, Singh had also led a march after which he referred to hookah bars as “breeding grounds of ‘love jihad’” and accused them of turning young people into addicts. He expressed that his teams would go to ‘warn’ restaurant owners.

A worker from the BYJM informed the press that there was a ‘Halla Bol’ (raise your voice) programme for hookah lounges.

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

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