By Express News Service

BHOPAL: The attack on a 25-year-old bangle seller Tasleem Ali in Indore on Sunday and subsequent lodging of a case of sexual harassment, forgery and cheating against him on Monday, has sparked a political war of words between the ruling BJP and the Opposition nationally.

Hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi district, Tasleem was mercilessly beaten by a group of men in Indore’s Govind Nagar locality on Sunday afternoon, while he was selling bangles there. The attackers also looted Rs 10,000 cash and bangles worth Rs 25,000 from him, besides damaging his cell-phone and warned him not to venture into any Hindu community locality again. The attackers alleged that Tasleem, who was selling bangles in disguised identity and possessed three different identity proofs, had sexually harassed a female customer.

A case was registered 10 hours later under 14 different sections of IPC and three men have so far been arrested in the matter.

On Monday evening, however, in a significant development, the Banganga police of Indore, lodged a case of sexual harassment, forgery and cheating against the same bangle-seller on the complaint of a Class VI student girl, who alleged that Tasleem, who possessed proofs of three different identities had posed self as Golu Singh, son of Mohar Singh. The minor also alleged sexual harassment by Tasleem, while her mother went inside to get money to pay for the bangles purchased on Sunday afternoon.

After booking Tasleem for sexual harassment, forgery and cheating under relevant IPC sections, besides provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, Tasleem was taken into custody on Tuesday. “A police team has been sent to his home district Hardoi in UP to check his credentials, as two Aadhar cards and one voter ID card containing differing details have been seized from Tasleem’s possession,” IG Indore Harinarayanchari Mishra said.

Meanwhile, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi slammed the lodging of a case against Tasleem by Indore Police. In a series of tweets, the AIMIM MP said, “bangle-seller Tasleem was beaten mercilessly by a mob in Indore, but now the police have lodged a case against Tasleem only.” Owaisi also attacked MP home minister Narottam Mishra for speaking in a tone which seemed protective of those who attacked Tasleem.

In Delhi, former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram reportedly said the beating of the bangle seller is a prelude to “inciting communal conflict and polarization” ahead of next year’s assembly polls.

Reacting to AIMIM leader’s jibe, MP home minister Narottam Mishra, asked Owasi not to interfere in MP. “Rule of law is being maintained in MP and none will be allowed to disturb law and order in the state. Anyone who holds two to three identity proofs and conceals his real identity is a criminal.”

Tasleem’s advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, meanwhile, alleged in Indore, that by lodging a counter case against Tasleem, efforts are underway to weaken and nullify the original case lodged in connection with the attack on him. “Lodging a case under Section 3 of POCSO Act is a violation of Supreme Court’s guidelines pertaining to investigations in case of mob lynching/attack.”