A Muslim man wore a burqa to disguise his identity while travelling by train after he was allegedly threatened by some people at a railway station following a minor accident. He told police that he was terrified because of the growing incidents of mob lynching in India.
Railway police in Agra, famous for the Taj Mahal, arrested the 42-year-old assistant engineer at Kasimpur power station, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday (2 July) afternoon.
Nazmul Hassan was detained after other travellers complained of a suspicious person in a burqa. Police followed the man for a while before detaining him.
Upon interrogation, he told the police that he regularly travels between Agra and the national capital New Delhi to take care of his ailing cousin. A week ago while getting off a train at a station near Agra, he accidentally pushed a man who then threatened to kill him.
Hassan added that the man insulted him and his religion in front of a huge crowd. They also threatened him that they would not let him live in the city, he said.
Recalling a recent incident in which a teenage Muslim boy, Junaid, was beaten and thrown out of a moving train by a mob following heated arguments, Hassan said: "I had read about Junaid's killing in a train in Ballabhgarh (a town in the state of Haryana) a few days ago. I was scared for my life after the threat, but couldn't avoid travelling. So I thought of wearing a burqa."
Hassan also told the police that he was afraid of travelling alone and had sought company, but could not find anyone following which he was prompted to use a burqa to disguise his identity and escape lynching.
Rajesh Pandey, senior superintendent of police for the area, told the Times of India that they verified Hassan's claims and did not find anything amiss.
"When Hassan was handed over to the GRP [Government Railway Police], he was crying and shaking and kept repeating that he is a simple man who has never done anything wrong," Pandey said, noting that they have released Hassan, but were still in touch with him.
"Different agencies verified that his act of wearing a burqa was born out of his fear following the incident that occurred with him at the railway station last week," an investigating officer added.