New Delhi: A report submitted to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has blamed the police for acting in a high-handed manner during the communal violence, which took place when the Navratri celebrations were on in Gujarat in September. Basing themselves on interaction with people of several localities, the fact-finding team said the attacks were by the “police and not by any community”. Quoting individuals, the PUCL said, “There was no trouble in the Yakutpura area”, yet the “police entered in Minar Masjid falia, Patel falia-1 and Patel falia-2 and suddenly started breaking vehicles.”
The report said, the cops “damaged each and every vehicle that was parked in these areas.” About 70 vehicles, “including, bikes, cars, auto rickshaws were damaged by them. Police damaged vehicles, cars, auto rickshaws window panes and doors of many houses”, it pointed out, adding, “They also beat some women with lathis. They were very abusive using the worst form of sexually explicit abuses. When women questioned why they were indulging in violence on this scale, they pulled their dupattas and almost choked one of them. They did not spare even children; a boy from 10th standard returning from tuition classes was beaten up.”
“They even beat up animals in their frenzy”, the report said, adding, “As per the complaint of the women they were just standing outside their houses, and police came forward to beat them up.” And “when they went to police station to lodge an FIR against this violence, they were viciously abused and driven out of the police station being threatened that that they are terrorists and they will be prosecuted under law.” Later, some 40 to 50 young men were “picked up from their homes and locked up.”
The team met Commissioner of Police Mr Radhakrishnan, who “accepted that the crime branch police was at fault in attacking the citizens and would take appropriate action”, the report said, but was in the denial mode when it requested him to formulate a citizen-police joint committee for spreading awareness and reducing communal tension, which he declined and told us to act ourselves in our own localities. “He said that here was almost no violence”, the report added.
In yet another area, Taiwada, near Sat Daragah Area, the team found residents complaining how in Sat (Sevan) Dargah, Taiwada area, on 28th early morning at 1.00 am, “a few policemen came and took a round.” At 2:15 am, 30-35 cops came “with people in civil dress and slippers, some of whom had handkerchiefs on their faces, with steel pipes and started breaking the doors and picking up 5-6 boys after beating them with pipes and rods.”
Ashiyana Abdul Latif told the team that in the absence of her husband, Abdul Latif, as he was on night duty, “the steel bars of windows of his house were broken with instruments brought for the purpose and plain clothes policemen entered the house. Then they put on the light and broke the doors. They pushed Ashiana against the fridge. They then went to the other room where their son Abdul Raheman (Aged 19) was sleeping, caught him by his private parts and dragged him out.”
Further: “When his sister cried to them to leave her brother, they turned their attention to the girls and tried to pull them even while the mother was trying to protect them. They beat the mother and the girls and tore the clothes of the daughter Amrin (aged 22). They told the mother to give them the both girls if they wanted the boy free. The mother was beaten on the head near her eyes with a lathi, and the girls were also beaten with lathis. Amrin who is also a nurse in a state of shock, trauma and has started getting fits.”
The report said, “Her situation worsened and became unconscious so she was admitted in the Sayaji General Hospital in the morning of September 28, 2014. In the hospital she mentioned about assault by police as reason for her injuries and mental shock and also registered her complaint in the Police Station of the General Hospital”, the report said, adding, yet “the doctor mentions assault by ‘opposing party’ in her case paper and she is not sure what police has mentioned in the FIR/Register.”
The cops, said the report, also “broke doors of the house of Tahirabanu and beat her boy who is student in first year of college and took him. He had his examinations from October 7. Police entered the house of Kulsumbibi Adbdulrahim Pulaowala (aged about 50) and beat her on thighs and broke the cupboard and broke fixtures and glass all over the house. She was so much afraid that did not go to hospital to get treatment. Only with support from human right activists she was taken to hospital only on September 29.”
In Fatehpura, Koyali Falia and Ranavas, the report said, “The trouble started on September 25 when a mob came to attack the tuition class located near their area. Along with the tuition class the houses and vehicles of other Hindu residents were also attacked. Shop keepers were forced to close their shops. Auto rickshaws, hand carts (laris), etc. were damaged. The trouble continued over the next few days. Several innocent boys were picked up by police.”
The report concluded, the factors which contributed to this new wave of communal violence in the city of Vadodara was “growing influence of BJP and right wing Hindu groups over police and administration”, nexus between “police , politicians and criminals”, and “ascendance of powerful builder lobbies and the related issues around land and attempts to displace people from poor bastis.”
The PUCL’s fact-finding team, which visited the affected areas, consisted of Ashok Gupta, Reshma Vohra, Kamal Thakar, Tapan Dasgupta, Yusuf Shaikh, Shaukat Indori, Trupti Shah, Hamida Chandol, Sabiha Hakim, Naginbhai Patel and Hardik Rana. A copy of the report, submitted to the NHRC, was also submitted to Gujarat home department and the DIG, Gujarat.
Download the full report here.