NIZAMABAD, TELANGANA:On Tuesday, Mohammad Yaqeen, the principal of a college in Telangana, was unfurling the national flag for Independence Day celebrations when a voice from the crowd piped up: “Remove your shoes”. A few more voices joined in. Mr Yaqeen finished his task and the national anthem started playing, but a group in the crowd was raring to attack him – for not taking his shoes off.
The principal was assaulted at the junior government college in Nizamabad by more than a dozen villagers and student activists who pulled him and reportedly forced him to say “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. Mr Yaqeen told his assaulters that there was no rule of removing one’s footwear while unfurling the national flag and that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and military officers didn’t do so.
But the mob was not listening.
In a video apparently recorded by one of the attackers, the principal is pulled out of the function by a screaming, slogan-shouting group that heckles him and surrounds him. According to reports, they even shouted: “Go to Pakistan”.
Mr Yaqeen later filed a police complaint referring to charges that include causing public nuisance, intentionally assaulting a public servant and trying to instigate enmity. Some 15 people have been detained.
Hyderabad lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of the AIMIM party, alleged that the activists who attacked Mr Yaqeen are members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student group linked to the ruling BJP.
“Every Bharatiya Janata Party Chief Minister was wearing shoes (on Independence Day). Will they protest and assault them also? The cowards attacked the Principal only because he is a Muslim,” tweeted Mr Owaisi, urging Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to take tough action.