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Gujarat public flogging: Police inquiry into their own brethrens' atrocity 'doesn't inspire'

By Our Representative 

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat unit, "strongly" condemning what it called "unconstitutional, illegal acts of certain personnel of the Gujarat Police who publicly flogged persons of a particular community in Undhela Village, Matar Taluka, Kheda District on October 3, 2022", has demanded that "an impartial departmental inquiry be conducted" against those who "perpetrated this dastardly crime."
Insisting on "exemplary disciplinary action" be taken against the police personnel, in a statement, signed by Hemant Shah, Meenakshi Joshi, Michael Martin, Raghavan Rangarajan and Prasad Chacko, the PUCL said, "The persons who were flogged allegedly disrupted the performance of Navaratri Garba, which is an offence which would be investigated and the alleged offenders prosecuted as per law."
However, it said, "the manner in which the police personnel took the law in their hands and flogged the alleged offenders in public is reminiscent of medieval barbarity; such brutality by law enforcement personnel is extremely serious, and indicates an impunity that has been cultivated in the police force."
Welcoming the inquiry ordered by the DGP, Gujarat, the PUCL insisted, "the victims of this atrocity should be provided protection by police personnel from the SRP or other forces that are not from the local police stations", but demanded, "The investigation should be done by a special investigation team reporting to a retired High Court Justice selected and appointed by the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court."
It further demanded, "The victims of this atrocity should be permitted to choose a public prosecutor of their choice and be provided financial assistance to pursue their case." At the same time, "transparent directives" accessible to all citizens should be issued to police personnel defining such criminal acts on the part of the police, delineating provisions for redressal to the victims of police atrocities.
Despite substantive evidence available in public domain about flogging, no action at all was initiated till the public outrage
In a separate development, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minorities Coordination Committee (MCC), Gujarat, in two separate legal notices (click here and here) issued to the Gujarat chief secretary, additional chief secretary (home), director general of police Ashish Bhatia, and the superintendent of police (Kheda district), has wondered how could the police be asked to look into "the atrocities committed by their very own brethren."
Issued though senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, Nafees said in one of the legal notices, the inquiry "does not inspire any confidence at all", insisting for an unbiased and fair inquiry, a retired judge of the High Court be asked to do the job.
Especially objecting the Ahmedabad Range IG being asked to inquire into the "atrocious incident", Nafees regretted, despite substantive evidence available in public domain about the flogging incident, no action at all was initiated till the public outrage".This, it says, stands a testimony to the fact that the "authoritarian rule and the colonial legacy" has been "institutionalized".
Stating that available full-fledged "videography clearly showed the perpetrators in action", Nafees warned, if the inquiry is not handed over to a retired judge of the High Court of Gujarat, suitable legal action would be initiated against the chief secretary, the additional chief secretary (home), DGP and the SP Kheda district in an "appropriate forum."
He said, not only do the international law and conventions to which India is a signatory to prohibit such torture, but the law under Article 141 substantially ensures no custodial torture takes place. "Yet officers working under your good offices as well as your good selves have completely lost sight of the law", it added.

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