Two Kashmiri dry fruit vendors were attacked on a busy road in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow in India by a group of men belonging to a fringe right-wing group on Wednesday, reported Indian media after the video of the thrashing went viral.
In the videos showing the two Kashmiris being abused, slapped and beaten, the men in saffron shirts can be heard saying as justification for their attack: “Because they are Kashmiris." Passers-by can be seen trying to stop the attackers.
According to The Quint, one of the assaulters — a self-proclaimed “former BJP politician” and member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad — posted videos and photos on his Facebook profile boasting about thrashing Kashmiris.
Another accused, a member of Vishwa Hindu Dal, went live on Facebook with a video of them thrashing the Kashmiri men, reported The Quint, adding that the video has now been deleted from his profile.
ANI on Thursday said that man seen in viral video thrashing Kashmiri street vendors in Lucknow has been arrested by the police. "The culprit Bajrang Sonkar has been arrested by police. Sonkar has criminal background and has 12 cases including a murder case against him," said SSP Kalanidhi Naithani.
Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, tagged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet with the viral video on Thursday.
“Dear PM @narendramodi Sahib, this is what you had spoken against & yet it continues unabated. This is the state governed by your handpicked Chief Minister," said Abdullah. "Can we expect action in this case or do we file your concern & assurances as a jumla, meant to placate but nothing more?”
NDTV quoted Uttar Pradesh Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar as saying: "This is a very unfortunate and one-off incident which has happened. We will crackdown on such incidents with the entire force of the law."
It added that several other parties, including the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and Asaduddin Owaisi, condemned the assault of the Kashmiri men.
Similar scenes have played out across India as Kashmiris suffer violent reprisals following last month's attack in occupied Kashmir's Pulwama area, which killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers.
Amnesty India has asked Indian government authorities to ensure that "ordinary Kashmiri women and men do not face targeted attacks, harassment and arbitrary arrests" as tensions continue to simmer in the aftermath of the bombing.
More than 500 students, along with 100 businessmen, arrived back in Kashmir to flee a “climate of fear and intimidation across India”, said Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation chief Mohammad Yasin Khan in February.
The violent backlash led to India's Supreme Court ordering bolstered protection for Kashmiris. The top court told state governments and police chiefs to ensure there are no "attacks, threats or social boycott" over the Pulwama bombing.