Gujarat Cops Barged in, Hit Me With Sticks: Pregnant Muslim Woman
Ahmedabad police allegedly broke into Muslim houses and detained innocents after violence in Shahpur area on 8 May.
Video Editor: Md Ibrahim
“It was around 7 PM in the evening on 8 May. I was in my house, cutting fruits for iftar. My husband was sitting on the bed at the other corner of the room, playing with my one-year-old daughter when some policemen barged into the house, dragged him outside and thrashed him mercilessly.”
Rehana* said she pleaded with the police to let her husband at least break his Ramzaan fast with a drop of water. “But they did not relent,” she said, breaking down beside the plate of chopped fruits.
She wasn’t the only woman in Ahmedabad’s Shahpur Adda who alleged brutalities and indiscriminate torture of Muslims in the area by Gujarat police, following violence on 8 May, in which 29 people were detained. Among the others who alleged police excesses in the area were a pregnant woman, a 62-year-old man and a child with disabilities.
‘I Told Police I Was Pregnant, They Kept Hitting Me With Sticks’
Showing red finger marks on her right cheek, Sulema* said, “I went out of my house to save my father and brother who were being taken away by the police when they started slapping me.”
“I told them I was pregnant. Despite that, they started hitting me with their sticks. They hit me repeatedly in my stomach with sticks. Finally, my neighbour stopped them and took away the stick they were beating me with.”Sulema*
Another woman, Raheema* alleged that her son, who is specially-abled, was also dragged out of the house when the police had barged into their homes to detain her husband. “They broke opened the door and dragged my husband out. When I tried to stop them, they dragged my son too. He can barely walk without support. His sister and I stopped the police from taking him away.”
Gujarat Police Denies Allegations
Denying the allegations of police excesses, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 2, Dharmendra Sharma said, “These claims about police torturing women or ransacking houses are completely false.”
Sharma added, “Yes, when some of the miscreants tried to flee, we chased them. Some of them tried to hide in the houses, so we had to drag them out and arrest them.”
Stone Pelting, Tear Gas: How the Violence Started
With an increasing graph of cases in the city, the lockdown was strengthened last week by closing all vegetable and fruit shops and allowing only milk and medicine shops to stay open.
Shahpur in Ahmedabad, known to be a communally sensitive area, was declared a containment zone for COVID-19.
On 8 May, when some women in this Muslim-majority area went out to get milk to break their Ramzaan fast, they were stopped by the police team, which was patrolling the area. An argument ensued which turned ugly, resulting in alleged stone-pelting, tear gas shelling.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 2, Dharmendra Sharma said:
“Police was trying to enforce lockdown but some people had come out on the streets and were not maintaining social distancing. Police asked them to go but they did not relent. Then police told them that they will take legal action, booking them under Section 188 IPC (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).”
Sharma added, “When some of these people were being taken to the police station, many other people came out on the streets and resisted their arrest. From one house, there was stone-pelting and one of our police officers got injured in that. And then the stone pelting intensified from all across the area. The police was caught in between.”
At least 29 people were detained from the area and booked under various sections of the IPC, the Epidemic Act and the Disaster Management Act. The FIR, filed by sub inspector HB Chaudhary, named 17 persons and said that three policemen, including police inspector RK Amin and four others were injured in the stone pelting by the mob.
It also mentions that 40 tear gas shells were lobbed and one rubber bullet was fired to disperse the crowd.
Videos Show Police Throwing Object at Crowd, Breaking Vehicles
Multiple videos from the spot have emerged which raises questions on the action of the police. In a short clip, a police is seen throwing an object at the crowd. While locals alleged that police resorted to stone pelting as well, Sharma denies the claim and says, “It could be stun grenade or three-way shell. It is not very clear.”
Another video shows policemen throwing objects, shelling tear gas and breaking parked bikes with their sticks. Some of them were also not in uniforms. DCP Sharma has not yet responded with a clarification on this video. The article will be updated as and when he responds.
Another video from the incident shows policemen mercilessly beating up a Muslim man in the middle of the road. The Quint has sought a comment on this incident too.
Meanwhile, civil society groups of Muslims in Gujarat have appealed to the Chief Justice of India to set up an independent enquiry into the alleged high-handedness of the Gujarat Police.
(With inputs from Sahal Qureshi in Ahmedabad)
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