A 14-year-old Muslim boy who entered a Hindu temple to drink water was assaulted in Ghaziabad, about 40km from capital New Delhi.
Footage of the incident sparked an outrage after it went viral.
In the video a man can be seen beating and kicking the boy named Asif as a second person films it.
Asif’s father told The Indian Express that his son “was in the area when he felt thirsty… he saw a tap at the temple and began drinking”.
Temple authorities 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.
The main suspect Shringi Nandan Yadav and another man named Shivanand, who filmed the video and posted it on social media were arrested by Ghaziabad police.
— Muhammad (@MohdBM793) March 12, 2021
Violence against Muslims and other minority communities has become increasingly frequent in India since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came to power in 2014.
“Attacks continued against minorities, especially Muslims, even as authorities failed to take action against BJP leaders who vilified Muslims and BJP supporters who engaged in violence,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its World Report 2021.
Earlier this month, American watchdog Freedom House downgraded India’s status from a “free” country to a “partly free” country.
The group’s Freedom in the World report noted the “rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population” in India.
It also highlighted the “crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters” during Modi’s tenure.