Murder investigation launched after video shows assault of elderly man: ‘Is your name Mohammed?’

·3-min read
The 65-year-old had been missing for four days before he was found dead on 19 May  (Screenshot/Twitter/@Anurag_Dwary)
The 65-year-old had been missing for four days before he was found dead on 19 May (Screenshot/Twitter/@Anurag_Dwary)

A 65-year-old man with mental disabilities has succumbed to his injuries after he was allegedly beaten up in an Islamophobic attack in India’s Madhya Pradesh state.

Authorities identified the deceased as Bhawarlal Jain, a resident of the state’s Ratlam district, who had gone missing from a wedding in the neighbouring Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan on 15 May.

He was found dead days later on 19 May.

“Since it was [an] unidentified body, we circulated messages on social media and nearby police stations. By evening, a Jain family from Ratlam claimed the body, identifying him as Bhawarlal Jain, a mentally challenged man who was missing for the last four days,” Suraj Kumar, superintendent of police in Neemuch district, told The Wire.

Subsequently, a video widely circulated on social media showed Jain being assaulted.

The video shows Jain sitting on a bench as a man stands over him, slaps him and asks for his name.

“What’s your name? Is your name Mohammed?” the attacker asks Jain repeatedly even as the elderly man can be seen struggling to understand the situation.

“Tell your name properly, show your Aadhaar [federal government issued ID] card.”

The attacker was later identified as Dinesh Kushwaha, the husband of Bina Kushwaha, a worker of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh.

Jain’s family approached police after the video reached them and lodged a complaint against Mr Kushwaha.

“A case under section 302 (punishment for murder) and 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code has been filed against Kushwaha and his unidentified accomplice and teams have been formed to arrest them,” KL Dangi, town inspector of Mansa police station said.

In a statement, Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra also said that a case of murder has been filed against Mr Kushwaha.

“He [the deceased] was a member of the Jain community. He was elderly and he had lost his way. He wasn’t able to identify himself properly and was struggling to pronounce words properly,” the minister said.

“The accused has been identified and an FIR has been registered against Dinesh Kushwaha. The deceased’s family had informed the police that he had mental illness.”

The incident has drawn condemnation from social media users as well as the opposition Congress party, which has accused the BJP of harbouring “hate” against Muslims.

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari shared the video of the incident and said the “killer” is the husband of a former BJP corportator.

“First Dalit, then Muslim-Adivasi and now Jain! This poison, the furnace of deadly hatred has been lit by BJP,” he said in a tweet.

Former Congress MP Digvijaya Singh said that although a case had been filed, it remained to be seen whether action will be taken.

The BJP denied that the incident had anything to do with party politics and promised to take action.

“The incident is unfortunate. An accused is an accused and it has nothing to do with party politics. None of the people involved in such an act will be spared by the state government,” state BJP secretary Rajneesh Agarwal said, according to NDTV.