Three Kashmiris selling dry fruits here were thrashed a day ago on charges that they pelted stones at security forces, leading to the arrest of a rightwing Hindu activist on Thursday, police said.
Bajrang Sonkar, who was arrested, is affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Dal and has a dozen criminal cases registered against him including one of murder, Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani said.
The attackers were initially booked under the Indian Penal Code and now non-bailable offences have also been included, Naithani said.
Three other attackers who are on the run are Amar, Himanshu and Anirrudh, the police said.
The attack took place on Wednesday when a group of saffron-robed youths came out of a car and pounced on the three Kashmiri men who were selling dry fruits at Daliganj Bridge.
The vendors were beaten up mercilessly, witnesses said, and their wares were thrown around. The attackers called the victims “stone pelters” and asked them to produce their Aadhaar cards.
The Kashmiris obliged but the attackers continued to beat them. No one came to the rescue of the victims.
It was only after someone called the police that the Kashmiris were saved.
Two of the injured vendors went away before the police arrived there but one Kashmiri, identified as Afzal, was taken to the police station.
Afzal was questioned for over an hour before an acquaintance vouched for him. No FIRs were registered against the attackers initially.
It was only after a video of the incident went viral on the social media that the police changed their tactics.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the brutality.
“Nothing will do more damage to the idea of India in Jammu and Kashmir than videos like these,” he said in a series of tweets along with the video post.
“Keep thrashing Kashmiris like this on the streets at the hands of RSS/Bajrang Dal goons and then try to sell the idea of ‘atoot ang’ (unbreakable part), it simply won’t fly.”
He called upon Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to punish “those guilty of this assault”. Singh represents Lucknow in the Lok Sabha.