Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday condemned in strong words the attack on a group of Kashmiri merchants in Lucknow by a group of right-wing men, assuring that those behind the attack will be dealt with sternly by the Uttar Pradesh government.
Addressing a rally in Kanpur, located 80 kilometres from Lucknow, the PM said, “Desh mein ekta ka vatavaran banaye rakhna bahut ahem hai. Lucknow mein kuch sirphire logo ne hamare Kashmiri bhaiyon ke sath jo harkatein ki thi uss par UP sarkar ne turanth karwayi ki (There is an environment of unity across the country. (But) Some crazy people in Lucknow attacked our Kashmiri brothers. The UP government has taken prompt action on them),” he said.
“I will also urge other state governments to take strict action whenever wherever they try to do such an act,” PM Modi added.
On 6 March, two Kashmiri street vendors were attacked by a group of men from a fringe right-wing group on a busy road in the Uttar Pradesh capital.
In a video shot by one of the accused, the men clad in saffron shirts were seen with sticks in their hands and thrashing the vendors. The men were heard saying that they were assaulting the vendors because they were from Kashmir. The vendors were rescued after several locals intervened.
As the video of the incident went viral on social media, the BJP and the state government came in for severe criticism from across the political spectrum.
The police arrested a man identified as Bajrang Sonkar. An FIR has been registered against unidentified men.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, too, condemned the incident and requested chief ministers of all the states to protect and love Kashmiri students.
“I want to convey a message to the entire country. I heard of a few incidents against Kashmiri children. Kashmiris are, were and will remain our people,” Rajnath Singh said.
Earlier on February 20, two Kashmiri shawl vendors claimed they were beaten up and called “stone pelters” by unidentified men on a train, forcing them to cut short their business trip to Rohtak.
The incidents come amid reports of some Kashmiri people claiming they were being targeted in many parts of the country in the aftermath of the February 14 terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that left over 44 personnel dead.