Delhi: Muslim Woman in Custody for Minor Alleged Offence Accuses Police Officer of Brutality

Hamida Idrisi alleges that the officer concerned only let her go after a payment of Rs 5,000 and threats of consequences if she spoke about what had happened.

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New Delhi:A 37-year-old Muslim woman with a disability from Northeast Delhi has alleged that she was brutally beaten in custody by Girish Jain, the station house officer (SHO) of Dayalpur police station, after she intervened in a heated argument between her neighbours and her tenant on August 30, 2021.

Hamida Idrisi filed a complaint on September 3 against SHO Girish Jain at the Seelampur office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Northeast Delhi, demanding strict action against the officer for inflicting “physical and sexual brutality” on her.

A copy of the complaint has been sent to the Delhi Commissioner of Police, the Delhi Human Rights Commission and the Delhi Minorities Commission.

Idrisi was born with no movement in one leg.

The events of August 30

Hamida and her husband, Mumtaz Idrisi, own a single-storey house in Nehru Vihar, Karawal Nagar, and have rented a part of this house to Kareem, whose sons Suhel and Suheb use it as a shop to sell beverages. The rent from the shop is the couple’s sole source of income.

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On the evening of August 30, a quarrel broke out between Suheb and four of Hamida’s neighbours across the street, named Soni, Arif, Suhail and Shahrukh.

When the argument threatened to turn into a fight, Hamida stepped in to mediate and separated the two groups. The shop was then closed and Suheb went to his home.

“But after some time, when everything had settled down, Girish Jain, the SHO of Dayalpur police station, and other police personnel barged into my house and asked me to produce the lease agreement with my tenant and the verification form. I immediately produced an 11-month lease agreement. They then asked me to take them to my tenant’s home, but I refused as my husband was not home,” Hamida told The Wire.

There were five policemen including Jain, Hamida said. Three of them were in uniform and two in plainclothes. There was no policewoman among them.

Hamida continued: “The policemen dragged me into their jeep and took me to the police station for inquiry. Soni, my neighbour’s son, was with them. After we reached the police station, they kept me sitting there till 10 pm, and then a lady constable named Komal tied my hands and pushed me into a small room. Then SHO Girish arrived with a green pipe of the kind used for cleaning and started beating me vigorously on my thighs and back. He used abuses and communal slurs to target my religion and continued to beat me for the next two hours.”

Hamida claimed that Jain had taken off her dupatta and hit her with the pipe till her skin was cut and bruised and she was bleeding. “Even 15 days after it happened, my body still has clear marks of the brutality inflicted upon me by the officer.”

Eventually, she said, she was let go later that night at 2 am after the officer threatened her with consequences if she ever spoke about what had happened.

“I remember his actual words,” said Hamida. “He said: ‘Don’t say a single word about this or I will destroy your entire family and your future and will do worse to you than I did this time’.”

They only released her after she paid them a bribe of Rs 5,000, Hamida added. “They wanted more, but that was all I had,” she said.

When Hamida got home, she found that her house and Kareem’s shop had been ransacked by the police and several valuable items, including a sofa, had been destroyed.

Counter allegations

Hamida and Kareem allege that Jain had taken her into custody and beaten her at the behest of Soni, her neighbour’s son, because Soni’s family had wanted the shop the Idrisis had rented to Kareem.

The two of them accused Soni of bribing the police with Rs 50,000 to arrest and beat Hamida.

Soni had been with the police when she had been taken to the police station, Hamida recalled. She said that at the police station, when she had appealed to Soni to sort out the issue through discussion rather than police intervention, he had said: “Bahut bol rahi thi, na, tum ladai khatam karwate waqt. Ab bolo (You said a lot, didn’t you, when trying to end the fight. Now talk).”

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Girish Jain, the SHO of Dayalpur Police Station, denied Hamida’s claims.

“Her claims are false,” Jain told The Wire. “I took her to the police station but only for inquiry and let her go after that.”

Asked about Hamida’s complaint against him, Jain said that Hamida was “dragging him into a conspiracy” because he had brought crime in the area under control.

But Sanjeev Kumar Singh, the deputy commissioner of police, Northeast Delhi, said, “Hamida’s complaint was heard and attended thoroughly by a senior official. It has been marked to the public grievance cell and the investigation is underway. Appropriate action will be taken after the investigation.”

‘Sheer contempt of humanity’

Ever since the communal violence that set Northeast Delhi aflame last February, Muslim residents of the area have been feeling harassed and targeted by the police.

Even Kareem, Hamida’s tenant, believes that she was picked up by the police simply because of her religion.

“They took Hamida for no crime of hers. Since the Delhi pogrom in 2020, the police have become more hostile towards Muslims in Northeast Delhi. It has become normal for uniformed men to pick up anyone and put them in jail though they have not committed a crime,” Kareem alleged.

Zafarul Islam Khan, former chairperson of the Delhi Minorities Commission, has been following Hamida’s case since it was first reported and raises serious concerns about the alleged brutality of the police and their hostility to Muslims.

“No day passes without some such incident of attack on hapless Muslims,” Khan told The Wire. “But the attack on Hamida was doubly alarming because the only reason given for taking her to the police station was that she had failed to have her tenant verified. Shecould have been fined or even sent to jail for a few days for what the police believe is such a “grave offence”. But to use that excuse to unnecessarily beat a handicapped woman black and blue is sheer bestiality and contempt of humanity.”

Ghazala Ahmad is an independent journalist based in Delhi.