Van Gujjar Mustafa Chopra and grandsons secure bail

The elderly member of an indigenous transhumance community had been physically assaulted by policemen and then arrested on trumped up charges!

Van Gujjars

Mustafa Chopra, a septuagenarian member of the Van Gujjar community who had been arrested on June 18 despite being the victim of police brutality, was given bail by the Dehradun Sessions court today. His two minor grandsons Usman (16) and Jabir (15) were also granted bail after 22 days. The arrested Van Gujjars were allegedly forced to endure custodial abuse in captivity.

The case refers to an incident where police personnel attacked the dera (shelter) of Mustafa Chopra, roughed him up, and also engaged in gendered violence against his daughter in law before booking the victims themselves on trumped up charges like attempt to murder! This is one of the growing number of instances of state repression of indigenous Adivasi community members in the region.

Last week CJP had moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) demanding justice for the Van Gujjars.

It is noteworthy that the bail hearing was originally set for July 6, but had to be postponed to July 10 as the judge was on leave. The petitioners advocate Chaudhry K.P Singh argued that the minors should have been treated in accordance with Cr PC 437 and presented before a juvenile court instead of being thrown in jail with adults. The boys were granted relief immediately.

Shortly afterwards the court took into account the fact that Chopra is a heart patient and has undergone bypass surgery and thus granted him bail. As all the paperwork is already in order, it is likely they will all be released shortly.



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