On 18th May, an agitated Muslim mob in the town of Mathura descended upon two Hindu lassi shopowners- both brothers, located at the crammed Chowk Bazaar of Mathura, close to the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple. Following a minor tiff, a burqa-clad woman brought along with her a bloodthirsty mob at the iconic ‘Nattho Yadav Lassiwale’ to exact revenge for the perceived inequity meted out to her. The mob indulged in brutally thrashing the lassi shop owners while addressing them ‘Kaafir’, a pejorative reference to non-Muslims.
As per the report by Swati Goel Sharma of Swarajya Magazine, the Muslim mob attacked the brothers on the instructions from the burqa-clad woman who addressed the shopowners as ‘Kaafirs’ while goading on the mob to attack them. Pankaj Yadav and Bharat Yadav, the two brothers who were managing the shop at that time were severely injured in the attack. Though the brothers were taken for dressing their external wounds, the elder brother Bharat sustained internal injuries and within a week’s time on May 24, his health deteriorated and on the following day, he died. The post-mortem revealed that Bharat’s brain and nerves were damaged in the attack.
According to his younger brother Pankaj Yadav’s testimony filed in the FIR on May 18, two women along with 8-10 men came to their shop at 8:30 pm in the evening. The shop owners told them to wait as there were customers waiting before them. However, the group taunted the brothers of being sluggish and hurled abused at them. After the group was fed with lassi, they entered in a brawl yet again when asked to pay up for the lassi. Eventually, the shop owners asked the group to leave the place without paying. A while later the group returned with 15-20 men and thrashed the brothers and vandalised their shop. They even took with them Rs 15000-Rs 20000 cash kept at the counter.
Pankaj has alleged two main culprits- Haneef and Shahrukh for ransacking his shop and has affirmed of identifying them if produced before him. The FIR registered by the police has booked Sharukh, Haneef and others under Section 395(dacoity) while not mentioning the violence meted out by them. A day after Bharat breathed his last, on 26th May, the enraged traders kept their shops closed and protested against the assault.
The traders were furious with police on many counts. They were agitated that the sentry posted by the police in the area to guard the market wasn’t in his place when the brawl broke out. They were also miffed that the police has so far not made a single arrest in the case and that the police let off the two accused in the FIR on the night of the incident itself.
The protestors were assuaged only when the police assured them that they will be arresting all the culprits in 24 hours. The police also added Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) in the FIR. As of June 2, the police have made 7 arrests in the case. However, the people have called the arrests as fake and accused the police of shielding the real culprits.
Many traders in the area allege that the mother of the accused is a popular Samajwadi leader who goes by the sobriquet ‘netani’ and thus the police have been protecting him. Mansoor Ali, a nearby resident, said that the people with vested interest were giving it a communal flair while it was just a spat between two groups. He added that the police should arrest those involved in the crime.
Traders in the area are deeply shocked at the audacious attack. A palpable sense of trepidation is prevalent among the locals as many have denied giving statements on video. Many of them summarily refused to talk about the incidents while many were ready to reveal their eyewitness story on the condition of anonymity.
As per the account shared by one brave eyewitness Ram Singh, a spat broke out when the group claimed that they had 5 glasses of lassis while the shop owners insisted that they had nine. The women alleged the brothers of being high on bhaang while the shop owners retorted back saying she must be high on liquor. Being offended at the affront, the woman left in a hurry claiming that she will teach the brothers a lesson. Singh said that a savage mob soon arrived that beat Bharat mercilessly. He was hauled out of the shop and clobbered brutally on the street. Ram Singh said that Bharat was beaten by an iron rod used to break ice in the Lassi shop.
From what many traders have gathered from the local people, the woman fabricated a story sexual molestation by the brothers to incite the mob against them.
Here’s Pankaj narrating the event. How a woman hurled abuses at the brothers and threatened to beat them, how the mob called them ‘kaafir’ pic.twitter.com/qXD3pdAJRq
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) June 6, 2019
Pankaj Yadav said that far from molesting her the shop owners only asked the group to leave with their folded hands. He alleged that the woman hurled nasty abuses at them and challenged them to file a police complaint against them. “What can you do? File a police report? I will get bail easily,” she said. Yadav also asserted that the group that came to assault them called them ‘Kaafirs’.
Only one eye-witness gave video statement. Only a few agreed for audio
Here’s an eye-witness mentioning the ‘kaafir’ slur. He also said the mob told the brothers they are getting emboldened because of Modi-Yogi and that they weren’t scared of Modi-Yogi pic.twitter.com/SeGm2cxvSx
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) June 6, 2019
Yadav added that the burqa-clad woman constantly goaded the group to continue to assault them with lathis and rods. According to an eye witness, the mob told the lassi sellers that it was because of Yogi Adityanath and Narendra Modi that they were getting encouraged. The eye witness continued that the mob claimed that they were not afraid of Modi and Yogi.