A disturbing video of an Indian Muslim man being brutally lynched by 11 people armed with swords and sticks in Maharashtra state has gone viral on social media and prompted a debate on the victim's identity.
According to reports in Indian media, the victim, whom police identified as Rafiquddin, allegedly a gangster, was having tea at a roadside stall in Dhule, around 280 km from Mumbai, when he was attacked.
Gruesome CCTV footage shows a group of about 11 men pulling Rafiquddin onto the street in public view and striking him with swords and sticks. They continue to hit him even as he lies unconscious and accumulated rainwater around him turns red with blood.
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Rafiquddin was struck 27 times with swords before the attackers escaped on motorcycles and scooters. Police claimed that he was a criminal out on bail, who had more than 30 cases of extortion, rape and murder against him, and that the murder was possibly a result of gang rivalry.
However, several social media posts have emerged in the aftermath of the murder which refute the Indian media and police’s claim that the victim was a criminal.
Social media users identify him as Naveed Pathan, a bodybuilder, who had participated in many contests.
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Zain Khan, a Dubai-based broadcast journalist, tweeted that Hindu extremists had targeted Pathan.
Others, including Senator Sherry Rehman also expressed their outrage.
A Facebook page called "We want justice for Naveed Pathan' also termed the murder a religion-based attack, and a Pakistani bodybuilder too posted a video against the barbaric incident.