First Kulkarni, now Engineer Rashid: Hindu Sena activists blacken J&K MLA's face with ink
Three men reportedly from Hindu Sena threw ink on the face of Engineer Rashid, independent MLA of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
Merely a week after the infamous ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni by Shiv Sena activists in Mumbai, three men, reportedly from right-wing organisation Hindu Sena, threw ink on the face of independent MLA from Jammu and Kashmir Engineer Rashid, at the Press Club of India in New Delhi on Monday.
The Hindu Sena activists blackened Rashid's face using paint, ink and engine oil.
According to TV reports, Rashid had been protesting against the fatal attack on a truck driver in Udhampur over rumours of killing a cow. He was holding a press conference at Press Club in New Delhi along with relatives of the two truck drivers who were burnt by a mob at Udhampur in Jammu region on 9 October, according to PTI.
As he finished his press conference, he was held at the gate of the Press Club by some TV journalists for a one-to-one interview when some activists shouting slogans "gow mata ka apman, nahi sahega Hindustan (India will not tolerate any disrespect to cow)" pounced on him and painted him with black colour, engine oil and blue ink.
Some of the TV journalists as well as policemen also received colours on their faces as well as clothes while trying to save the MLA from the mob.
Two people were detained by the police and whisked away to Parliament Street Police station while Rashid had to take refuge inside the Press Club till additional force came in.
Rashid was previously attacked at the floor of the J&K Assembly for hosting a beef party in Srinagar.
A visibly disturbed Rashid addressed the media after the ink attack on Monday and said, "What happened to Sudheendra Kulkarni has happened to me...The world should see where India stands today."
"They (the attackers) are mentally sick. I want the whole world to see how these people are trying to muzzle the voice of Kashmiris," he said. "Talibanisation is not just taking place in Pakistan. It is happening all over India too," CNN-IBN quoted Rashid as saying. The MLA later also demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the assault on him.
The ink attack took place after Rashid had made comments at the press conference about the beef party organised by him inside the MLA hostel in Srinagar.
"I do not eat beef, mutton, or chicken but that was a form of protest to tell the authorities that do not interfere in anyone's religion," Rashid had explained to reporters during the press conference when he was asked about him violating the sentiments of the people.
"If the UP government can be held responsible for Dadri incident, then BJP is equally responsible for the Udhampur incident along with its ally PDP," he said.
The relatives of the two truck drivers in Udhampur, who were sleeping in the truck when it was attacked by a mob with petrol bombs, alleged that Mufti Sayeed Government was "threatening, abusing and warning" their family members from speaking to the media.
"Mufti Sayeed will have to pay for this. Is this democracy that India boasts about? Its worst," Mohammed Ashraf, kin of Zahid, one of the victims, said after his face was also blackened.
Reacting on the beef party controversy, Rashid said people have "right to eat". "We also consider cow as mother cow. Each and every person has right to eat what he wants," he said.
Rashid said 72 percent population of Jammu and Kashmir is Muslim and that their sentiments should also be taken care in a national discourse.
"Are we living in Hindustan of Mohan Bhagwat or Sakshi Maharaj? The Prime Minister talks of Talibanisation and radicalisation. What is this happening in Jammu and Kashmir? Nobody is speaking. I request you with folded hands to highlight the plight of Kashmiris," the MLA told reporters.
Rashid also sought higher compensation for the Udhampur attack victims. "There should be higher compensation for them. We have returned the compensation given to us by the state administration," the state legislator said.
He demanded stricter punishment to those behind the gruesome Udhampur attack. "The (alleged) kingpin Pralahad Singh of the attack is still at large. Why is he not being arrested? The irony is that he is holding demonstrations in Udhampur for release of other five who have been booked by police.
"We want that the attackers behind this incident should be hanged like Afzal Guru (2001 Parliament Attack convict)," Rashid said.
He said that youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir are being forced into stone pelting. "They do not throw stones on their own. They are being forced to do it," Rashid said explaining the stone pelting by the youths there protesting the incident.
Asked about the functioning of the state government of PDP-BJP, he said, "what can I say. Mufti Saheb himself said that the alliance was meeting of North Pole and South Pole. So when these two poles meet, its only disaster."
He recited an urdu couplet of famous Urdu poet Ghalib - "Na Khuda hi mila, na visaal-e-sanam; Na udhar kay rahay, na idhar kay rahe hum (I found neither faith, nor union with my lover; And now I belong neither there nor here)" - to explain the position of Sayeed afer his alliance with the BJP.
Among the key reactions to the ink attack on Rashid, BJP leader Hina Bhatt said, "I condemn what has happened to Engineeer Rashid. Such incidents are heartbreaking."
Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah said that PM Modi should look into the perpetrators who were behind the attack.
On 12 October, Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, was assaulted and smeared with ink ahead of the Monday launch of Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove: An Insider's Account of Pakistan's Foreign Relations authored by former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.
(With inputs from PTI)