Baghpat: As many as 12 youths have been booked for allegedly forcing a Muslim cleric to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram‘ and tugging at his beard.

Superintendent of Police Shailesh Kumar Pandey said, “Prime facie, it seems to be a matter of physical assault. Even then, the police have registered a case against 12 youngsters on the basis of the cleric’s complaint. Action will be taken against them on the basis of a probe.”

He said that Muzaffarnagar resident Imam Imlaq-ur-Rehman was on his way to his village on his motorcycle on Saturday, when nearly 12 youngsters accosted him, beat him up and also pulled his beard. The Imam claimed he was also forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, the SP said.

The cleric said he was rescued by two people of his village. He also said the youths threatened him that if he planned to visit their village, he should first shave his beard. The SP said it was yet not clear what prompted the boy to misbehave so.

The SP said that the Imam had registered a similar case in Muzaffarnagar district as well and that had turned out to be true.

Earlier this week, three Muslim students had alleged that they had been accosted, beaten up and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in Unnao. Later, police said that probe revealed some of the names mentioned in the FIR were not even present on the spot at the time of crime.

Late in June this year, a 16-year-old Muslim boy was allegedly beaten by unidentified men in Kanpur for wearing a traditional skull cap and refusing to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Mohammad Taj was returning home after offering Friday namaz when three or four unidentified motorcyclists stopped him.

Station House Officer (Barra) Satish Kumar Singh said that the attackers asked the teenager to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and kicked and punched him when he refused to do so. An FIR was registered under the Indian Penal Code, including Section 153A (causing enmity between people of different religions), the officer said.