7th Attack In 7 Weeks: Muslim Students Beaten For Refusing To Chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’


Unnao, Uttar Pradesh: Three Muslim teenagers were injured in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao town after they were beaten for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram. This was the seventh such incident nationwide this year, all of which occurred after May 22, 2019, a day before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was re-elected at the Centre, according to a FactChecker analysis of data recorded by Hate Crime Watch.

While two such incidents were recorded in Madhya Pradesh in 2019, one each was recorded in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Assam. One person was killed and at least 12 injured in these incidents.

Between 2010 and 2018, India reported only eight incidents where citizens were forced to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'--all of which took place after 2014. Two such incidents were reported in 2016, and three each in 2017 and 2018, according to Hate Crime Watch.

On June 11, 2019, “[c]hants of "Jai Shri Ram" filled the hall of Lok Sabha when BJP members from Bengal--Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri--took oath,” India Today reported on June 18, 2019. “The slogan has been at the centre of a political slugfest between Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP.

This is the 64th hate crime motivated by religious bias to be recorded in Uttar Pradesh--India’s most populous and the most violent state for such violence--according to Hate Crime Watch, a FactChecker database that tracks these crimes from 2009 to-date.

Hindus, 80% of the population, were targets in 15.6% (10 of 64) hate crimes motivated by religious bias since 2009 in UP, Hate Crime Watch data show; Muslims accounting for 19% of the population have been targets in 68.8% (44 of 64) hate crimes. The religious identity of victims in six cases was not known.

Of the 64 religious hate crimes in Uttar Pradesh over 10 years, 62 (96.9%) were recorded after 2014, when the BJP came to power at the Centre, and 46 (71.9%) after the party won the state assembly election in 2017.

Nationwide, over a decade to 2019, 91.8% of 295 hate crimes motivated by religious bias--claiming 99 lives--were reported after 2014. Hindus, 79.8% of population, were victims in 14% attacks. Muslims, who form 14% of India’s population, were victims in 59.3% such hate crimes, according to Hate Crime Watch, while Christians who form 2.3% of the population, were victims in 14.2% of cases.

The attack and the police response

On July 11, 2019, at around 2.30 pm, 10-15 students of the madrasa run by Jama Masjid in Unnao, 65 km southwest of the state capital Lucknow, were playing cricket at the Government Inter College (GIC) ground in the Civil Lines area. Four Hindu youth entered the ground and starting beating the students, police told FactChecker.

Then, the youth asked the students to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. When the latter refused, the attackers continued to beat the students and tore their clothes, 15-year-old Abdul Waris, a victim, said. “In a bid to rescue ourselves, we tried to pelt stones at them, but they started beating us with their belts,” he added.

When they tried to run, said 17-year-old Noor, another victim, the youth pelted stones at the students, leading to injuries to many of the students on their heads and hands, adding that they also damaged the students’ bicycles.

Three students received minor injuries and their medical examination, a legal requirement, has been completed, Umesh Chandra Tyagi, Circle Officer (Police), city range, told FactChecker.

A first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with FactChecker, was filed by Nisar Ahmed (20), principal of the madrasa, under sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with voluntarily causing hurt (Section 323), assault (Section 352), intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace (Section 504) and criminal intimidation (Section 506). The FIR named three of the attackers--Aditya Shukla, Kranti and Kamal--while the fourth attacker is listed as unknown. 

The same night, the police arrested Kranti and Shukla. Kranti is an office bearer of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha (BYM, the youth wing of the BJP), police sources told FactChecker, while Shukla is a member.

FactChecker reached out to BYM on July 12, 2019, for comment on the incident and the alleged involvement of one of their members, but they refused comment. FactChecker also called Unnao Lok Sabha member Sakshi Maharaj four times, but he refused comment.

“We have asked the police to take strict action, and have given them a deadline of 10 am [on July 12],” Maulana Nishar Misbah, the Kazi (Islamic legal scholar) of Unnao, said. "It is a sensitive day because it is Jumma (Friday), and a lot of people will gather at mosque. We will not be able to hold the public if they go berserk.” 

“The police acted very well and so far, we are happy with the police action," Misbah added. On the other hand, a large number of protesters have taken to the streets in Unnao alleging “one-sided action against the Hindu boys” in this case.

Update: Late night on July 12, 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government released a press note claiming that “in the course of deliberation” they found the case “was a quarrel between the students over a game of cricket and there were no religious slogans involved.” They go on to say that “earlier such incidents were noticed in Kanpur, Aligarh and other places where reports were misleading to disturb communal harmony.”

"The arrested youths were released on Friday night as no proof was found against them and their phone call record details show a different location for the time when the incident took place,” Unnao Superintendent of Police M P Verma, told Factchecker on July 13, 2019. “We have taken four other youths into custody and the investigation/interrogation is going on," he said. 

On July 13, 2019, Bhanu Mishra, Unnao president of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, of which two accused--Kranti and Kamal -- were office bearers, refused to comment again but confirmed to FactChecker the two are close to Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj.

Nisar Ahmed, principal of the madrasa where the victims were attacked, refuted the government's statement. He said the victims were indeed forced to say "Jai Shri Ram" and beaten, as he mentioned in the FIR he filed with Unnao police.

We stand by our story.

(Singh is an Unnao-based reporter and member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. Saldanha is an associate editor with FactChecker.)

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

Unnao, Uttar Pradesh: Three Muslim teenagers were injured in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao town after they were beaten for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram. This was the seventh such incident nationwide this year, all of which occurred after May 22, 2019, a day before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was re-elected at the Centre, according to a FactChecker analysis of data recorded by Hate Crime Watch.

While two such incidents were recorded in Madhya Pradesh in 2019, one each was recorded in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Assam. One person was killed and at least 12 injured in these incidents.

Between 2010 and 2018, India reported only eight incidents where citizens were forced to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'--all of which took place after 2014. Two such incidents were reported in 2016, and three each in 2017 and 2018, according to Hate Crime Watch.

On June 11, 2019, “[c]hants of "Jai Shri Ram" filled the hall of Lok Sabha when BJP members from Bengal--Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri--took oath,” India Today reported on June 18, 2019. “The slogan has been at the centre of a political slugfest between Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the BJP.

This is the 64th hate crime motivated by religious bias to be recorded in Uttar Pradesh--India’s most populous and the most violent state for such violence--according to Hate Crime Watch, a FactChecker database that tracks these crimes from 2009 to-date.

Hindus, 80% of the population, were targets in 15.6% (10 of 64) hate crimes motivated by religious bias since 2009 in UP, Hate Crime Watch data show; Muslims accounting for 19% of the population have been targets in 68.8% (44 of 64) hate crimes. The religious identity of victims in six cases was not known.

Of the 64 religious hate crimes in Uttar Pradesh over 10 years, 62 (96.9%) were recorded after 2014, when the BJP came to power at the Centre, and 46 (71.9%) after the party won the state assembly election in 2017.

Nationwide, over a decade to 2019, 91.8% of 295 hate crimes motivated by religious bias--claiming 99 lives--were reported after 2014. Hindus, 79.8% of population, were victims in 14% attacks. Muslims, who form 14% of India’s population, were victims in 59.3% such hate crimes, according to Hate Crime Watch, while Christians who form 2.3% of the population, were victims in 14.2% of cases.

The attack and the police response

On July 11, 2019, at around 2.30 pm, 10-15 students of the madrasa run by Jama Masjid in Unnao, 65 km southwest of the state capital Lucknow, were playing cricket at the Government Inter College (GIC) ground in the Civil Lines area. Four Hindu youth entered the ground and starting beating the students, police told FactChecker.

Then, the youth asked the students to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. When the latter refused, the attackers continued to beat the students and tore their clothes, 15-year-old Abdul Waris, a victim, said. “In a bid to rescue ourselves, we tried to pelt stones at them, but they started beating us with their belts,” he added.

When they tried to run, said 17-year-old Noor, another victim, the youth pelted stones at the students, leading to injuries to many of the students on their heads and hands, adding that they also damaged the students’ bicycles.

Three students received minor injuries and their medical examination, a legal requirement, has been completed, Umesh Chandra Tyagi, Circle Officer (Police), city range, told FactChecker.

A first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with FactChecker, was filed by Nisar Ahmed (20), principal of the madrasa, under sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with voluntarily causing hurt (Section 323), assault (Section 352), intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace (Section 504) and criminal intimidation (Section 506). The FIR named three of the attackers--Aditya Shukla, Kranti and Kamal--while the fourth attacker is listed as unknown. 

The same night, the police arrested Kranti and Shukla. Kranti is an office bearer of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha (BYM, the youth wing of the BJP), police sources told FactChecker, while Shukla is a member.

FactChecker reached out to BYM on July 12, 2019, for comment on the incident and the alleged involvement of one of their members, but they refused comment. FactChecker also called Unnao Lok Sabha member Sakshi Maharaj four times, but he refused comment.

“We have asked the police to take strict action, and have given them a deadline of 10 am [on July 12],” Maulana Nishar Misbah, the Kazi (Islamic legal scholar) of Unnao, said. "It is a sensitive day because it is Jumma (Friday), and a lot of people will gather at mosque. We will not be able to hold the public if they go berserk.” 

“The police acted very well and so far, we are happy with the police action," Misbah added. On the other hand, a large number of protesters have taken to the streets in Unnao alleging “one-sided action against the Hindu boys” in this case.

Update: Late night on July 12, 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government released a press note claiming that “in the course of deliberation” they found the case “was a quarrel between the students over a game of cricket and there were no religious slogans involved.” They go on to say that “earlier such incidents were noticed in Kanpur, Aligarh and other places where reports were misleading to disturb communal harmony.”

"The arrested youths were released on Friday night as no proof was found against them and their phone call record details show a different location for the time when the incident took place,” Unnao Superintendent of Police M P Verma, told Factchecker on July 13, 2019. “We have taken four other youths into custody and the investigation/interrogation is going on," he said. 

On July 13, 2019, Bhanu Mishra, Unnao president of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, of which two accused--Kranti and Kamal -- were office bearers, refused to comment again but confirmed to FactChecker the two are close to Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj.

Nisar Ahmed, principal of the madrasa where the victims were attacked, refuted the government's statement. He said the victims were indeed forced to say "Jai Shri Ram" and beaten, as he mentioned in the FIR he filed with Unnao police.

We stand by our story.

(Singh is an Unnao-based reporter and member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. Saldanha is an associate editor with FactChecker.)

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

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