Police raid and detain members of denotified tribes in Gujarat

What is believed to be a minor scuffle between two Chhara community boys and a police man has become a serious attack on the entire community residing in Chharanagar.


Chhara Community

Image: http://bharatduniya.org/
Ahmedabad: The Chhara community of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, was victimised by police on Thursday night and a force was deployed to raid all Chhara houses. About 30 people were arrested on the pretext of rioting, loot and attacking an officer on duty.
What is believed to be a minor scuffle between two Chhara community boys and a policeman has become a serious attack on the entire community residing in Chharanagar.
According to reports, two boys were counting some money on their bike when a policeman approached them. They had an argument and the policemen asked the boys to come with him to the police station. When they refused, a fight broke out where all parties involved were injured. In a couple of hours at around midnight, a force of 500 policemen entered Chharanagar and created a curfew. They raided and combed every house in Chharanagar to search for suspects.
In a report by The Indian Express, the assistant commissioner of police J P Raol said, “Our sub-inspector Mori, had gone there (Chharanagar) to conduct raids when at least 150-200 Chharas attacked and assaulted him and looted him. We then sent our vehicles and combed the entire area and rounded them up.” He said everything happened after midnight.
Aatish Indrekar or Aatish Chhara, an activist, was arrested by the police and relatives claim that he was not involved in any incident. It was also said that he protested against the police for vandalising his bike. The community claimed that the police was threatening them for no reason and were warned that if any of them ventured outside, they would be beaten up.
A Whatsapp forward and a few pictures uploaded on facebook suggest that the police broke whatever they could lay their hands on. They broke vehicles, cars and entered home, attacked men, women and children and broke household items too. They even attacked media persons and lawyers who tried to intervene.
A senior theatre and film director of Budhan theatre, Dakxin Chara, was also beaten up and his mother-in-law was attacked.
He said in a report by Scroll that the police “attack” on the residential colony was unwarranted. “The police have been raiding liquor sellers in our area for three months now, but last night it was not a raid – the police assaulted us,” said Chhara, who denied police claims of stone pelting on the part of the Chharanagar residents. “There was no stone pelting at all. An altercation took place between Mori and two Chhara boys, after which more than 400 policemen came to Chharanagar and began to assault anyone they saw on the streets.”
“The theatre artist added that the violence began around midnight and continued till 5.30 am on Friday. He claimed the police smashed vehicles parked on the streets and even barged into people’s homes and beat them up. “My wife and I were at my mother-in-law’s place and the police broke the door and came in,” said Chhara. “They assaulted my 75-year-old mother-in-law and literally threw her across the room. They started attacking my wife too, and I was thrashed with batons when I intervened,” the report added.
“None of the political leaders are available – their phones are either switched off or out of range. I called the CP Ahmedabad twice he didn’t pick up. This is like the attacks on Muslim colonies which used to take place while Modi was CM, now the Hindu Rashtra which they are building, treats not only Muslims like dirt, Dalits were treated like that too, now extending to denotified tribes,” the WhatsApp message said.
Abhishek Indrekar, an independent filmmaker and relative of Dakxin Chara, has been covering the entire ordeal on the ground through his Facebook page. “Gujarat Police are rioting Chharanagar badly. They have torned down all the vehicles. Its totally curfew now. They are not letting us go to our places not letting us out of our homes. They are beating every chhara person they see whether it’s a woman or a kid. They have already picked up hundreds of people for nothing. They are also pelting stones on people. This is called Dadagiri of Gujarat Police. This all comes from Upar se Order aaya hai, Saab ka! And we all know very well who is that Bada Saab! Note: All the policemen/women are drunk and they are enjoying by doing all this violence on the people of Chharanagar. #GujaratPoliceKiDadagiri #ViolenceInChharanagar #2019ElectionPreparation,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.
Through his live videos, he showed that men and even women who were passing by were lathi-charged by police.
He informed that many citizens and activists held a press conference in front of Sardar Nagar Police station where many people have been wrongfully detained on Friday. He also said that the electricity of Chharanagar was intentionally cut by the government.
Alpsankhyak Adhikar Manch reported that the police station authorities had beaten up many and arrested 40 people from the community. They also allegedly denied entry to social activists and media people.
The Chhara community is a denotified tribe and a section of the community is involved in bootlegging while many indulge in performing arts, theatre and films. It was included in the ‘Criminal Tribes Act’ by the British and the members of this community are still seen as ‘born criminals.’ The community has often been at the receiving end of police scrutiny.



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