Kheda police flogging: Victim-Accused files private complaint, court directs police to conduct probe

A local Kheda court has directed the Ahmedabad Range Inspector General to conduct an inquiry into a private complaint filed by a farmer, Ayub Shaikh, who happened to be Muslim, who was arrested for stone-pelting at a garba event and also flogged by police personnel


Video clips that purportedly showed policemen flogging those arrested for pelting stones at the garba event at Undhela village of Matar taluka had surfaced on social media , generated public outrage following which Ashish Bhatia, director general of police (DGP), Gujarat had ordered an IG-level inquiry. A minority rights group, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) has, however sent a legal notice to the Gujarat government demanding an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Gujarat high court into the incident.

Now, yesterday, October 12, 51 year-old Ayub Shaikh has filed a complaint filed against 24 persons, including the police, BJP MLA from Matar Kesarisinh Solanki and the sarpanch of the village. Ayub Shaikh alleges in his complaint that the garba organised on October 3 was a “premeditated plan” to trap the accused.

The DGP had, subsequent to the outrage against the public flogging handed over the probe to the deputy superintendent of police, Kapadvanj, VN Solanki. Declining comments on the progress of the probe, DySP Solanki told this newspaper, “I will submit the report to the authorities shortly.”

However, despite these developments, the Indian Express  has reported that the magistrate of the Matar court, taking cognisance of a complaint filed by Shaikh, 51, has directed Ahmedabad Range IG on Monday to inquire into the alleged incident.

In his complaint, Shaikh has said, “We have learned that the local MLA, along with the other members of the village, including the sarpanch, conspired to organise the garba in the common chowk facing the masjid… On October 3, at around 11 pm, the group as well as persons who had come from outside, including MLA Kesrisinh Solanki, began throwing gulaal on the masjid. When five members of the community tried to stop them, MLA Solanki and other leaders of the village said, ‘Set these people (Muslims) straight…’”

Shaikh has described how there was selective targeting of the Muslim community subsequent to the fracas over the garba celebrations. He has told the court in his private complaint that the LCB and SOG of the Kheda district arrived in the village and picked up 40 persons from the Muslim community. “Thereafter, on October 4 morning, they brought us to the village and publicly beat and humiliated us, and took us in the police vans to Nadiad. They kept us in illegal confinement until the night of October 4 and produced us in court the next morning after our arrest…”

Meanwhile, the Kheda SOG (Special Operations Group) which is probing the case of the alleged riot in which 43 persons and a mob of 150 have been booked for attempt to murder and rioting among other sections, has arrested 18 persons so far.

The sarpanch of Undhela village

Media has also reported that it is Indravadan Patel is the sarpanch of Undhela village in Gujarat’s Kheda district, who took the decision to organise the garba at the village chowk.

A vocal BJP supporter (“Yes, I support the BJP and BJP supports me.”), Patel says that the chowk where the stone throwing took place has a Tulja Bhavani temple, and that he had gotten the necessary permissions to hold the garba event there. On the other side of the religious divide, Muslim villagers have reportedly told the media that they had asked the garba organisers  to ensure that their event doesn’t impede Eid-e-Milad preparations at a mosque near the chowk. However, they claim, when they requested that the garba music be turned off while their prayers are read, the event organisers refused, sparking an argument, the Muslim villagers had claimed.

At Undhela’s Hussaini Chowk, apart from an existing temple, a second one, which will face the mosque, is under construction. The Hindus in Undhela — about 6,000 out of an 8,000-strong population, according to estimates by sarpanch Patel — live on one side of the chowk, while the Muslims live on the other. Following the stone throwing and flogging incidents, the tension between the communities is acute. The garba organisers have accused the ‘Muslim side’ of stone pelting on the garba; the Muslims clearly state that it was the intransigence of sections of the majority—refusing to turn down the DJ music when the Quranic recitions were taking place around Eid-E-Milad that exacerbated the tensions.

 Hindus and Muslims have coexisted in Undhela peacefully, barring the state-wide violence that erupted in Gujarat in 2002. Many blame the escalation of intra-community tensions to the election of the current sarpanch,Patel as village head.

MCC Legal Notice to Govt

On October 7, the MCC has issued a ‘legal notice’ to the Gujarat government, 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.

“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.”

The incident

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.


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