Kolkata: Twenty-year-old Mohammad Shahrukh Haldar, a resident of Canning, a town in south 24 Parganas was travelling to Hoogly on Thursday afternoon, when a group of people, assaulted and bullied him for sporting a beard and skull cap and refusing to chant Jai Sri Ram on a moving local train, this time in the heart of Kolkata.
Speaking to eNewsroom over the phone he said, “I had boarded the local train from Canning, to reach my Madarsa in Hoogly, like I usually do. However, on Thursday, when the train reached Dhakuria, a lot of people boarded chanting religious slogans. From their attire, it seemed like they were going to attend some rally and seemed to be members of Hindu Samhiti. We were seated and kept quiet. Soon we heard some ruckus, it seemed like there was some quarrelling on in the compartment, just next to ours. However, we little realised that it would reach our compartment soon.”
He took a pause and then went on to narrate, “As the train reached Ballygunge, these people then began harassing men sporting skull caps and beard. They then asked me as to why I was sporting a skull cap and beard. They also asked me chant Jai Sri Ram. When I didn’t reply to their questioning, they began assaulting me. By this time the train entered Park Circus. Here they pulled me along with others towards the train and pushed us off. Some locals came to our rescue. By the time I narrated my ordeal the train chugged away. So, we went to the Topsia Police station and lodged a police complaint, following which the case has been taken up by the GRP. However, my assailants are yet to be traced and booked.”
Speaking about a mob lynching case in heart of the city, Santasree Chaudhuri, a social entrepreneur and activist said, “I am ashamed that such an incident has taken place in the heart of the city. Lord Rama is an epitome of grace. Forcing and bullying the common man, particularly from another community is only a way of disrespecting him. It’s unbelievable to see how these Hindutva goons are taking control over the city after their recent victory.” She further added, “This is a way of making the minorities feel the heat. But the biggest question here is – how Mamata Banerjee will address this issue?”
However, this is not the first time that this type of assault has taken place in Bengal. “This definitely not the first time that such an assault has taken place. Last year, another Muslim man (beggar) had been physically assaulted for not knowing the national anthem by the saffron brigade near Howrah. So, Haldar’s case is not new. The recent win will only make such attacks more frequent in our state,” said social activist Samirul Islam.
He added, “Our NGO – Bangla Sanskriti Manch has been playing a role in providing legal support to him, but he is yet to get justice. In Haldar’s case too, we are open to providing legal aid.”