Staff Correspondent

Auto driver was attacked by vigilantes

Woman is said to have travelled by the autorickshaw to a clinic

Police officials say no case has been filed

PUTTUR: A police squad attached to Puttur Town Police Station have thwarted an attempted moral policing by a group here on Saturday.

According to sources, at about 2.30 p.m., Khaleel (22), an autorickshaw driver, was allegedly accosted by a waiter and a few of his friends at a hotel here, for trying to become friendly with a Hindu passenger.

Assistant Superintendent of Police at Puttur sub-division Chandra Gupta told The Hindu that a Hindu woman had hired Mr. Khaleel’s autorickshaw to go to a nearby clinic. After dropping her at the clinic, Mr. Khaleel went to a nearby hotel to have food.

A few minutes later, the woman passenger also came to the same hotel as she had been asked by the doctor to visit him later. The two, woman passenger and the autorickshaw driver, although occupying separate tables, exchanged smiles and pleasantries, an eyewitness told The Hindu.

He said, on the condition of anonymity, that the act of exchanging pleasantries by the two did not go well with the waiter at the hotel. He immediately summoned some of his friends and surrounded Mr. Khaleel at his table.

After a heated exchange, the autorickshaw driver was dragged outside by the waiter and his friends and roughed up. However, before things could deteriorate further, a police patrol team chanced upon the spot, said Mr. Gupta.

He said the day was saved because of the heavy police deployment in Puttur taluk since communal clashes broke out in reaction to a similar act of vigilantism on March 16, when alleged Hindutva activists had attacked a few college students.

Mr. Gupta termed the incident as a “scuffle”.

The Puttur police officials told The Hindu that no case had been registered in connection with the Saturday’s incident. Mr. Khaleel did not want to file a case, they said.

The local unit of Popular Front of India, an Islamic organisation, has decided to file a case. Its members have alleged that the police did not file a First Information Report (FIR). Haneef Khan, president of the regional unit of the front, said that Mr. Khaleel had given them four names, who had assaulted him. “We will press for framing charges against the assailants,” Mr. Khan said.