Demanding suitable, commiserate and transparent action against the erring police officials, including an inspector, reportedly responsible for the public flogging of Muslim youth in Undhela Village of Matar Taluka of Kheda District on October 3-4, 2022, the Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat (MCC) issues a legal notice to the Gujarat government and demands probe by a retired HC judge.
The legal notice was issued to the chief secretary Gujarat, the additional chief secretary, Gujarat, the director general of police, Gujarat and the superintendant of police, Kheda district and sent by high court advocate, Anand Yagnik. The MCC is a network of citizens working for the rights and welfare of all minorities in the state.
According to newspaper reports, after the public outrage following the public flogging (Kheda Flogging Incident) at Undhelka village, the government was forced to order an inquiry and the Ahmedabad Range IG has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
Through the legal notice issued on October 7, MCC through its convenor, Mujahid Nafees, states that such an inquiry into violent police conduct by the police itself (albeit an IG level officer) inspires little confidence as is liable to be biased and hence serious objections have been recorded in the said notice.
“Despite substantive evidence available in public domain about the flogging incident,” states the notice, no action was initiated until an expression of widespread public outrage. This reveals, states the notice that the “entire police force has institutionalized this authoritarian rule and the colonial legacy of taking law’s into one’s own hands and the rest of the force including all higher ups are standing as mute spectators and indirectly approving the atrocities.”
Further the notice states that “though never spoken about but police officers covering up crimes of their colleagues is not unknown to our system. The whole flogging incident of which no cognizance was taken despite of wide reporting and outcry itself shows that the informal code of silence among police officers not to report on a colleague’s misconduct, crimes and brutality persists deeply within the entire system. “
Hence, owing to these circumstances, such an inquiry… conducted by the Ahmedabad Range IG would always hover under the clouds of biasness and the same gives rise to justifiable doubts as to the independence and impartiality of the one conducting the inquiry.”
Hence it is critical for the inquiry to be “impartial, fair and transparent, it is incumbent that the same be done by a retired judge of the Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat.”
This step is critical to instil and re-kindle the faith of the citizenry. In case the government does not respond to the issues in the notice, the MCC will take legal action on the issue.
The legal notice served to the Gujarat government by the MCC may be read here:
The shocking incident of public flogging by the police of Muslim youth at Undhela village, located in the Matar taluka of Kheda district in Gujarat, took place on Tuesday, October 4, just a day after an incident of stone pelting was reported at a Garba event in the area.
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 had reported that the man who had 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.
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 village sarpanch, Indravadan Patel, according to a report in The Indian Express, had organised a 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.