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New Delhi: The Gujarat police have ordered an inquiry into the policemen who publicly flogged members of the Muslim community in a village in the Kheda district, days after viral videos of the incident caused massive outrage.
The flogging in Undhela village of Matar taluka in Kheda district happened after alleged stone-pelting at a Garba event on Monday night. According to the Indian Express, the group of men in plainclothes, seen restraining and flogging four men, have been identified as officers of the Local Crime Branch (LCB) unit of Kheda district.
The officer who flogged the men is police inspector A.V. Parmar while the officer who removed phones and wallets from the pockets of the men is sub-inspector D.B. Kumavat, the newspaper reported.
Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Bhatia said, “We have ordered an inquiry into the policemen seen in the video. Action will be taken only after the inquiry.” The investigation will be headed by the deputy superintendent of police of Kapadvanj taluka V.N. Solanki. Seven police officers from the LCB unit are under investigation.
According to Indian Express, a senior police officer said that Parmar and Kumavat “should not have taken the law in their hands”. “Once the primary probe report is submitted, the officers will face the first disciplinary action. They will be asked to submit their version,” an officer told IE.
Meanwhile, a Hindu report says that the police will also take action against the people who recorded videos of the flogging.
The village sarpanch had organised the Garba event at a temple. Some members of the Muslim community allegedly tried to stop the event and later hurled stones at the venue. At least seven persons, including a gram rakshak dal (GRD) jawan and a policeman, were injured.
The first information report (FIR) says that a mob of 150 people, including women, participated in the attack. Forty-three accused were identified. The arrested accused were booked under IPC sections related to attempt to murder, rioting, unlawful assembly and voluntarily causing hurt, among others, they said.
Voluntary organisation sends legal notices
The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a voluntary organisation, in Gujarat has sent legal notices to the Gujarat chief secretary and DGP and urged the state government to take “appropriate and suitable departmental, disciplinary, punitive and criminal action against the erring police officials forthwith who have openly violated all rights of the victims by way of public flogging”.
Mujahid Nafees, convenor of the MCC, said that if no action is initiated, he will be constrained to initiate suitable legal action against the erring police officials and the respondents.
“Such open and brazen violation is not only against the protected right under Article 21, but against the whole constitutional spirit of a civilised society,” it further stated. The alleged stone-pelting incident does not justify the public flogging by the police personnel to quell the “hurt sentiments” of the majority population of the village, it said.
The police personnel who are responsible for flogging are bound by the Code of Criminal Procedure and have no right to physically hit or intimidate anyone, stated the notice.
There is no section in any police manual or Indian Penal Code that allows police to indiscriminately assault citizens, it said.
TMC files NHRC complaint
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in connection with the public flogging, party spokesperson Saket Gokhale said on Friday.
He said it is “a matter of shame” that the NHRC hasn’t taken suo motu cognizance of the matter.
“It is a matter of shame to see that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) hasn’t suo moto taken up the matter of Gujarat Police publicly flogging Muslim youth. But they shouldn’t have the excuse of ‘no one complained’. We All India Trinamool Congress filed a complaint with the NHRC today,” Gokhale said in a tweet.
It is a matter of shame to see that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) hasn’t suo moto taken up the matter of Gujarat Police publicly flogging Muslim youth
But they shouldn’t have the excuse of “no one complained”
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) October 7, 2022
He also shared a copy of the complaint. It says that several viral videos on social media show a group of Muslim men being “tied” to a pole in Undhela village of Matar Taluka in Kheda district, Gujarat.
“The police claimed that this was ‘punishment’ to the Muslim men who were accused of stone pelting. The police basically decided to act as jury and executioner and unleashed inhuman brutality on a group of young men purely because they were Muslim.
“This is a clear case of police brutality and atrocities against religious minorities ahead of the Gujarat Assembly Elections and may also be politically motivated,” the complaint stated.
(With PTI inputs)