In Two Separate Incidents, Kashmiri Traders In Bengal Assaulted
The attacks were reported from the Nadia district of Bengal, and Kolkata.
Two incidents of violence against Kashmiri residents have surfaced in Bengal in the wake of the Pulwama attack on 14 February. While one incident was reported from the Nadia district of the state, another was reported from Kolkata.
In both cases, those assaulted were shawl-sellers from the Budgam district of Kashmir who travel to Bengal to sell their shawls during winter. They then reside in the state for 4-5 months before returning to their hometown.
In the Behala area of Kolkata, four Kashmiri shawl-sellers were assaulted on Sunday, 17 February, by a mob of about 200 people.
According to them, at around 11.30pm on 17 February, a mob gathered in their locality which has just these four Kashmiri residents. Three of the victims – Nisar Ahmed, Sabeer Mullick and Faisal Khan – live together while another, Raees Ahmed Wani, lives in a building a few metres away.
“In the middle of the night, we heard some commotion outside our building and heard people shout ‘Raees Raees’. Our landlord then came and told us that they were asking the Kashmiris to come out on the streets,” said Sabeer to The Quint.
While Raees did not want to be quoted, sources close to him have told The Quint that about three months ago he had written a post that ended with “I hate the Indian Army” on Facebook. Since then he has been constantly bothered by different groups, some even demanding as much as eight thousand rupees to not harm him. The sources also stated that Raees puts up such posts because his family in Budgam is otherwise harassed by militants.
That night, the crowd had come looking for Raees, having received news of this post that he made three months ago. But soon their anger turned to the others as well.
All four were dragged, punched and slapped and have sustained multiple bruises all over their body, before the police arrived at the spot to diffuse the matter. The four victims stayed at the police station for a day before returning to their rented apartments on the night of 18 February.
In another incident – the video of which has now gone viral on social media – another Kashmiri shawl-seller, Javed Khan, was beaten up in West Bengal’s Nadia district on Monday, 18 February.
According to a report by NDTV , on Monday, Javed was told by a customer that a fake account by his name was making derogatory comments and that the said account was going viral.
Soon news of the fake post spread and people started gathering at Javed’s home, abusing and slapping him till his nose bled. The police had to intervene to disperse the mob and thereafter, asked Javed and the three other Kashmiris to leave the area “till things cool down”.
According to police sources, no complaint has been lodged yet. However, they have taken suo moto cognisance of the case and are trying to identify those who led the mob. One person has been arrested.
Reacting to the incident, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked people to “not pay heed to rumours.”
“We are fighting to unite India, not divide India. That is what BJP wants,” she added.
(With inputs from NDTV)
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