NEW DELHI: Hindu religious extremists allegedly set a 15-year-old Muslim boy on fire in Chandauli district of India’s Uttar Pradesh on Friday for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram, IANS reported.
The boy is undergoing treatment at the Kabir Chaura hospital in Varanasi.
“I was walking on Dudhari bridge when four men kidnapped me,” the boy said initially. “Two of them tied my hand and the third one started pouring kerosene. After which they set me on fire and ran away.” He later said that he was being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
However, the police denied that the boy was forced to chant the religious slogan. Chandauli Superintendent of Police Santosh Kumar Singh claimed the boy gave different statements to different people.
“He’s admitted in a hospital with 45 percent burns,” Singh told ANI. “He had given different statements to different people, so it seemed suspicious,” adding: “It seemed he had been tutored.”
There have been a series of lynching incidents across India, where Muslim victims were attacked for not chanting Jai Shri Ram. In the most recent incident, two Muslim men in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city were threatened and forced to chant Jai Shri Ram by unidentified people on July 21.
On June 18, a Muslim man identified as Tabrez Ansari was thrashed in Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district for allegedly attempting to steal a motorcycle. The FIR said that the mob had also forced Ansari to chant Jai Shri Ram and Jai Hanuman. He died four days later.
Last week, a group of 49 intellectuals wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to intervene to stop mob lynchings. The letter said that the slogan Jai Shri Ram had become a “provocative war cry” and the reason behind many lynchings in the country.