A Muslim youth in U.P.’s Chandauli district was allegedly set on fire by four persons after he refused to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. The police, however, after investigation, dismissed the theory, saying he actually set himself on fire and concocted the story. “The incident was investigated and found to be baseless, fabricated and malicious,” the police said, threatening legal action against rumour-mongers on social media.
The youth suffered 45% burns, the police said.
According to the victim, identified as 17-year-old Khalid Ansari, he had gone for a stroll to Dudhari bridge in the early hours of Sunday when four persons, with their faces covered, “kidnapped” him and sprayed kerosene on him and set him ablaze.
“Two of them caught hold of my hands. One of them said ‘Sunil, spray kerosene on him and light a match. He will die on his own’,” the youth said from his hospital bed in Varanasi.
Asked why he was attacked, he said: “They were asking me to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’. I did not say it.”
Chandauli SP Santosh Kumar Singh said “anti-social elements” had tutored the youth and his mother to add the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chant part so that the issue gets more mileage. “It is a fake story,” Mr. Singh said.
According to Mr. Singh, the youth’s statements over the incident have been inconsistent. The sequence of events and location of the incident changed in each narration, the police said.
He said the youth first told a police response vehicle team that he had gone for a run in the morning and near Manrajpur village he came across four persons who dragged him to the field and set him ablaze.
“When I spoke to him at the district hospital Chandauli, he told me a different location, Chateen village, in the opposite direction to Manrajpur and 1.5 to 2 km away. That’s what he told the doctor too,” said the officer.
While on his way to BHU hospital in Varanasi, the youth again changed his version, Mr. Singh said. This time he allegedly told the escorting sub-inspector that he was near Dudhari bridge when four persons came on a motorbike and forcibly took him to Bhatija More, where he was dragged to a field and set ablaze.
“It appears that he was tutored. We checked the CCTV cameras on all three routes. But he was not found to be coming or going from any of those,” said Mr. Singh.
A private CCTV footage on the west side of the alleged place of incident had revealed that the youth was seen walking in a gully in a burned state at 5.15 a.m.
Around 1.5 km from the spot, the police team found his burnt clothes. A newspaper hawker then told the police that at 4.25 a.m., he saw the youth set himself on fire and run away from the spot.