Four employees of a footwear store at the City Centre Mall here were admitted to a private hospital with grievous injuries after they were allegedly attacked by a gang, led by the mall's architect and realtor Dharmaraj following a dispute over a petty issue on Saturday. The accused have also allegedly destroyed the shop property during the attack.

An FIR has been lodged at the Mangalore North police station against Mr. Dharmaraj and 14 others, allegedly belonging to the Bajrang Dal. The victims of the attack have been identified as Razeen Jamal (31), Hassan Rahees (18), Mohammed Iqbal (27) and Imtiaz Ahmed (26). The police are on the lookout for the accused and have booked them under non-bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code for rioting with weapons and criminal intimidation.

Mr. Dharmaraj is one of the principal consultants with the Mangalore City Corporation and a key-player in the implementation of the Rs. 100-crore Chief Minister's development project here.

Mr. Jamal, a victim, told The Hindu at the hospital that Mr. Dharmaraj accosted him in the mall's toilet and spoke to him rudely for washing his lunch box in the washbasin.

“The moment I asked him to identify himself, he started beating me. Soon, the housekeeping and security staff, who are from the Bajrang Dal, joined him and started assaulting me,” Mr. Jamal said.

“The attackers, led by Mr. Dharmaraj, followed me into the shop,” he said. Inside the shop, Mr. Jamal's colleagues Mr. Raheed, Mr. Iqbal and Mr. Ahmed tried to come to his rescue when the accused turned on them.

Mr. Dharmaraj, however, denied the charges and said that he was attacked by the footwear store's staff and described them as hooligans. However, he failed to explain why none others were injured.

However, the district chief of the Bajrang Dal Sharan Pumpwell said: “It is true that those who were involved in the attack are from our organisation. But the incident has nothing to do with the Bajrang Dal. They had acted in self defence.”

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