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Indian police arrest two men after assault on Muslim boy at Hindu temple

image copyrightGhaziabad police/Twitter

image captionPolice have named Shringi Nandan Yadav (centre) as their main suspect over the alleged assault

Two men have been arrested in India following a violent assault on a 14-year-old Muslim boy who entered a Hindu temple to drink water, police say.

Footage of the incident, which occurred in Ghaziabad in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, sparked outrage after it was widely shared online last week.

In the video, posted on Instagram, one man can be seen beating and kicking the boy as a second person films it.

Rights groups have expressed concern over an apparent rise in such assaults.

In Uttar Pradesh, there has been an increase in recent years of reported targeted attacks on minorities, including Muslims, by “extremist Hindu groups”, according to Human Rights Watch.

Some Hindu temples in India do not permit entry to non-Hindus, and the site in Ghaziabad had a sign stating that it was “forbidden” for Muslims to enter, The Indian Express newspaper reported.

Incident account disputed

The incident involving the boy in Ghaziabad, named as Asif, reportedly took place last Thursday and was later posted online by one of the suspects, police said.

It showed the teenager being struck in the head, forced to the ground and then repeatedly kicked, including in the groin.

However, managers of the Hindu temple in Ghaziabad have questioned whether the incident was a dispute over water, stating that there was a tap outside and that Asif should not have entered the temple grounds.

Ghaziabad police have named the suspect as Shringi Nandan Yadav, a resident of the city of Bhagalpur in the state of Bihar. They said he had told them that he was working as a caretaker at the temple where the alleged assault took place.

Another man, named only as Shivanand, has been arrested in connection with the filming of the incident, police confirmed on Sunday.

Ghaziabad police Supt Kalanidhi Naithani said the main suspect was arrested shortly after the incident was first reported, and that “strict action” would be taken.

The reaction on social media was swift – and angry.

“What kind of sick person [do] you have to be to mercilessly assault a child?” journalist Rifat Jawaid tweeted.

Another Twitter user, local news reporter Navya Singh, wrote: “This incident is not just brutal but also shows how brazenly the assaulter shared the video on social media.”

Indian opposition politician Tejashwi Yadav tweeted that Asif was the victim of a “poisonous ideology that teaches human beings not to be human”.

The hashtag #SorryAsif has been trending on Twitter for much of the weekend.

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