Five Bajrang Dal workers, including a minor, have been arrested in Sakleshpur, Hassan district, for allegedly burning a makeshift canteen run by two women on the suspicion that beef was being cooked. The incident occurred on January 31 at the APMC Ground in Sakleshpur when the group allegedly ransacked the stall, overturned the vessels and gas cylinder, burnt it and threatened to set Khamrunnisa (70) and her daughter-in-law Shamim (50) on fire.
The police officials investigating the incident, however, have confirmed that no beef was being cooked at the stall. Five persons were arrested in connection with the incident on Tuesday, Hassan SP AN Prakash Gowda told TNM. Mohammed, son of Khamrunnissa, who also operates an auto-rickshaw in Sakleshpur rushed to the spot upon hearing news of the attack. However, when he reached, the stall was already on fire.
Shamim and Khamrunissa are residents of Raghavendra Nagar in Sakleshpur. The duo have been running a stall at the fair on the APMC ground for several years, specialising in chicken and mutton dishes.
Khamrunissa, however, told TNM that the police refused to register the FIR when they approached them on Thursday. “We were at the police station till 11 pm that day and the police dismissed our complaint without citing a reason. The police then came forward and urged us to file a complaint the day after the attack,” she said.
She also said that among the hundreds of people who attended the fair on the day of the attack, none have come forward as witnesses. "It was a fair and a lot of people were witness to the attack. Even though we spoke to some of them, nobody has come forward to be a witness," she said.
The duo remain defiant and added that they will not close down the stall in spite of the attack. “We have worked hard to set up the stall and keep it running every year. The people who attacked us were wrong but we will not cower down,” she adds.
The arrested persons have been identified as Karthik, Deepu, Prathap, Raghu, and a minor. Karthik is the president of the local unit of the Bajrang Dal.
The police have booked the five accused under IPC sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault on women), 427 ( causing damage), 436 (committing mischief by fire) and 506 (criminal intimidation).