07, Oct 2022 | CJP Team
In shocking developments in a recent case of flogging in Gujarat’s Kheda district, the man seen beating up four other men in a viral video, has been identified as a policeman. The three other men seen helping him have also been identified as cops.
According to the Indian Express, they have all been identified as members of the Local Crime Branch (LCB) Unit of the Kheda district. In light of this, Mujahid Nafees, the convenor of Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) Gujarat, a voluntary organization, has sent a memorandum to the Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department, the state DGP and the district police, demanding action against the errant policemen.
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The memorandum was in the form of a legal notice and was issued on October 6, through his advocate Anand Yagnik. The Hindu reports that the MCC seeks “appropriate and suitable Departmental, disciplinary, punitive and criminal action against the erring officials forthwith who have openly violated all rights of the victims by way of public flogging.”
Brief background of the case
The incident took place in Undhela village, located in the Matar taluka of Kheda district in Gujarat, on Tuesday, just a day after an incident of stone pelting was reported at a Garba event in the area. The publication reports that while the people flogged and arrested for disrupting the event were not identified, police confirmed that they all hailed from the Muslim community.
A video of the flogging went viral on social media, surfacing first on October 4, and in it a man in plainclothes with a gun holstered to his belt, can be seen use a lathi to beat at least four men, one by one. The flogged men then fold their hands appealing to a crowd that appears to be cheering the actions of the cops. Other plainclothes men are then seen leading the beaten men to a police vehicle.
The Indian Express now reports that the man who wielded the lathi has been identified as Police Inspector AV Parmar. Another man seen removing phones and wallets from the pockets of the flogged men has been identified as DB Kumavat, who is also a policeman working with the LCB. The other two policemen are yet to be named. An enquiry has now been ordered into the matter.
Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Bhatia told IE, “We have ordered an inquiry into the policemen seen in the video. Action will be taken only after the inquiry.” Deputy Superintendent of Police of Kapadvanj taluka, V N Solanki, has been given charge of the investigation. IE quoted him as saying, “I have been handed the probe today. I am yet to look into the details of the video clips.” Meanwhile, the publication says, Parmar and Kumawat remained unavailable for comment.
The Garba incident
The village sarpanch, Indravadan Patel, according to a report in The Indian Express, had organised the garba outside a temple, which faces a mosque and also shares a wall with a madrasa. The village, with a population of about 6,000, is demographically equally divided between the Hindu and Muslim communities, both living in ‘separate, demarcated’ areas. When reporters from the media including the IE visited, most of the houses in the minority area were locked. A few members of the community, mostly women or the elderly, were seen. However, most refused to speak on the incident.
“You should go and ask the sarpanch what happened that night. They have picked up men from our community under various charges and left us alone in such a vulnerable state… Who is responsible for our safety when the police are beating up our men without a proper probe,” said one of the women.
From the other side of the religious divide, Ravindra Patel, a resident, said, “The people of the village gathered at the chowk when they heard that the men who disrupted the garba had been caught. We asked the policemen to teach them a lesson. There are about eight men who always instigate others and threaten us. When the policemen beat them with their lathis, everyone cheered because it was a consolation for what we have been suffering. This is the first time, after so many years of facing intimidation, that we had got justice.”
“We are preparing an application demanding a police chowki in the village. Even before the garba, we had sought police protection because, for several decades, our community has been attacked while celebrating any festival in the chowk. This time, they (accused) did not even spare the policemen,” alleged Shailesh Solanki, a member belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of the Matar taluka panchayat.