In another incident of moral policing, a Muslim woman was assaulted and a Hindu man beaten up allegedly by a group of Muslim activists as they were travelling back home together, near Bajpe on the outskirts of the city.
Deeba Algani (23), who was admitted to hospital on Thursday, recalled the harrowing two hours when activists, allegedly belonging to the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD), dragged her around, accusing her of a relationship with her landlord, Dharmendra (37).
On Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Algani and her cousin travelled to the city purchase things for their new house. She also carried Rs. 3.7 lakh that had to be given to Mr. Dharmendra, a contractor. With no place for her in the car after having stuffed it with purchases, the landlord offered to drop her back home.
“Dharmendra is a close friend of the family. After giving him the lease money, I had helped him choose dresses for his family. I noticed a few men looking at us at the store, and I think they believed we were having a relationship,” she said.
The men followed them on bikes, and around 8 p.m. at an isolated place near Bajpe, forced them to stop the vehicle. “Around 20 people surrounded the car. Calling me a prostitute, they hurled abuses at Dharmendra asking him why he had to travel with a Muslim girl. They even asked me why I could not find a Muslim boy,” Ms. Algani said.
They repeatedly slapped her and hit her on the head, she alleged. The men then got into the car and drove them towards Bajpe. “More people joined there. They dragged us out and trashed us. Dharmendra got the worst of it,” she said.
It was only around 10 p.m. that two passers-by rushed to help Ms. Algani, and convinced the crowd after calling up her family. “By then, they had stolen the lease amount, and our mobiles. Though they released me, they took Dharmendra to a hillock and trashed him black and blue,” she said.
Sitting by her in Wenlock Hospital, Zubeida, her mother, said Dharmendra, who is already married, has kept a low profile since and will not pursue the case fearing a “loss to his reputation”. “However, we will not let go off this case. They have physically and mentally tortured my daughter,” she said.
Parvez, the victim’s brother, said it was obvious that the men belonged to KFD. “It is a small town, and our friends recognised them as being from that organisation.”
The Bajpe police said the complaint mentions unknown people belonging to KFD, but no arrests had been made so far.
Ilyas Thumbe, State President of Popular Front of India, which is a socio-political arm of the now-defunct KFD, denied that its members were involved in the incident.