: A group of 12 youths allegedly assaulted a Muslim cleric, pulled his beard and forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Doghat area of Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, just stone’s throw away from a police post. Police confirmed that the cleric was assaulted, but refuted other allegations. All 12 accused in the case have been booked for assault.

In his complaint, 30-yearold Imla Qurrehman Qasmi, who teaches at Sabri mosque in Meerut’s Sardhana, said that he was stopped by the 12 youths while he was returning to his home in Muzaffarnagar’s Budhana areaon Saturday evening.

“They thrashed me, pulled my beard and my skull cap and asked me to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. When I refused to chant, they thrashed me again,” Qasmi said, adding that the accused also asked him to get his beard shaved before entering the area the next time.

The cleric added that some locals intervened and saved him, after which he approached police. Baghpat police chief Shailesh Kumar said: “We received a complaint from Imla Qurrehman Qasmi on Saturday evening, in which he claimed that he was stopped on his way home by some 12 people for religious reasons. A case was filed in the matter and investigation set up.”

No arrest has been made in the matter so far.