In what is suspected to be a case of vigilantism in Karnataka’s communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district, a group of men assaulted and stabbed a Muslim man traveling in a bus from Mangaluru to Bengaluru along with a friend, a Hindu woman, on Thursday night. The two, who are friends and former classmates according to the police, boarded an overnight bus in Mangaluru bound for Bengaluru.
But the bus was stopped at a major junction in Mangaluru at around 9:30 pm by a group of men. They stormed into the bus and raised questions about the interfaith duo traveling together. A scuffle broke out and, in the commotion, the man was stabbed with a sharp object. He is currently in the ICU of a private hospital in Mangaluru. The woman was also hurt in the assault, according to the police.
Sources said that the group that waylaid the couple comprised members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). A VHP leader confirmed to select media that their members had stopped the couple and violence ensued.
The victim was identified as Aswid Anwar Mohammed, 23, from Baikampady in Mangaluru. The police have registered a first information report (FIR) in the case and are questioning 15 persons for attempting to murder the man. No arrest has been made so far.
“The woman told us that she knew the man for many years as they were classmates. She said she was travelling to Bengaluru for a job in digital marketing and that the man was travelling with her to help her since he had been to Bengaluru before,” Shashi Kumar, Mangaluru Police Commissioner, told reporters.
“We are enquiring how this group of people got information about the travellers. They were traveling in an overnight sleeper bus to Bengaluru. The group of men were agitated because they were from different communities and they raised allegations about 'love jihad',” a senior investigating police official said.
Soon, social media went agog. This is not the first incident of its kind.