UP: Muslim journalist assaulted by Hindu Vahini in presence of MLA, booked by police too

Ameen Farooqui, a local TV journalist in Siddharthnagar in Uttar Pradesh was brutally thrashed by youths belonging to the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a Hindu right-wing outfit, while officials including the Sub-Divisional Magistrate Tribhuvan Kumar, Circle Officer Ajay Srivastava and Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker  Raghvendra Pratap Singh watched as silent spectators.

Singh is also the state convener of Hindu Yuva Vahini.

Instead of taking action against the attackers, police rubbed salt into the wounds of the victim; on Tuesday Faruqui, Farhan and Rashid were booked under section 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation), 342 (wrongful confinement) and I47 (rioting) of the IPC.

A copy of the FIR is available with Maktoob.

Demanding that the perpetrators be arrested immediately, Farooqui’s brother Affan Farooqui told Maktoob, “The police were not even willing to register an FIR against the assaulters. After the news went viral on Twitter, we were able to register the FIR”.

Farooqui, a reporter with local television channel Bharat News, was covering the inauguration of a COVID-19 unit at the Benwa Community Health Centre in Domariyaganj on Sunday when he was attacked. It came after he had questioned the SDM and the MLA about the unequal distribution of COVID resources, vaccine shortages and delayed COVID initiatives. 

“After the attack, instead of arresting the goons, policemen took Amin to the Domariyaganj police station for questioning, where he was kept for 8 hours without an FIR”, Affan told Maktoob. 

Videos from the site which went viral on social media show a mob punch and slap Faruqui, while cops watch as spectators.

Some of the names who attacked Faruqui mentioned in the FIR include- Pawan, Satya Prakash Shrivastav, Shambhu Agrahari, Luvkush Ojha, Chandrabhan Agrahari and Santosh Saini. According to Telegraph India, Lavkush Ojha is a block-level BJP leader.

However, Siddharthnagar police tweeted a video claiming that it was a personal scuffle between two groups of journalists. “Ameen and his associate had misbehaved with the SDM. This angered a different group of journalists causing the scuffle. We are investigating the matter.”

“How can this be a clash between two groups? The video is very clear. Amin was alone and they were around 10 to 12. Only he was being assaulted,” Affan says. Ameen is currently suffering from severe back pain and face swelling, due to the assault.  

The Uttar Pradesh government has been accused of silencing the voice critical of its handling of the COVID-19 crisis as Chief Minister Adityanath has himself threatened stringent action under the National Security Act (NSA) and seize the property of individuals who “spread rumours” or “raise false requests for help”. 

On May 6 the authorities in Lucknow filed a case against the director of a private hospital for raising the alarm of oxygen shortage in the hospital treating COVID-19 patients. The FIR came weeks after CM Adityanath held a meeting asking the administration to crack down on hospitals that complain of shortage of oxygen.