Gujarat High Court moved against police brutality on Muslims in Junagarh

AHMEDABAD : Two civil society organisations approached the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday in a bid to seek justice for eight to ten Muslims who were reportedly subjected to a brutal public flogging by the Junagarh Police.

Expressing lack of faith in the Gujarat Home Department, the Lok Adhikar Sangh and the Minority Coordination Committee filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting multiple instances of custodial violence perpetrated by the Junagarh Police in the Saurashtra region.

Clashes between the locals and the police were reported on June 16 following demolition notices issued by the Junagarh Municipal Corporation for alleged encroachments on public roads by five Islamic structures.

A local died while four policemen were injured during the clashes and a state transport bus and a police chowki, vehicles were damaged. Following the clashes, around 35 people were arrested.

The police allegedly subjected eight to ten detained people to merciless flogging in full public view near Geban Shah Masjid at Majewadi Gate of Junagarh town later that night. A viral video depicted the victims crying out in agony as they were struck from behind with a cricket bat-like staff by the police.

The petition, presented before a division bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice AJ Desai and Justice Biren Vaishnav, emphasized that such acts of police brutality against Indian citizens belonging to a minority community, without due process of law or court conviction, constitute severe human rights violations by the law enforcement agency.

Advocate Manoj Shrimali representing the Lok Adhikar Sangh and Mujahid Nafees representing the Minority Coordination Committee, highlighted the alleged coercion faced by the parents of six arrested juveniles. These parents had initially lodged complaints of custodial violence and torture before a magistrate but were reportedly pressured by the police to withdraw their complaints.

The organisations cited the case of six other individuals who also submitted written complaints to a magisterial court, alleging custodial violence, torture, beatings, and the denial of necessary medical treatment despite their serious injuries caused by police brutality.

Furthermore, the petition claimed that the police exerted influence at the hospital, allegedly preventing doctors from issuing injury certificates to the victims during their medical examination.

Subsequently, once the accused individuals were taken to Junagarh jail, the police allegedly coerced them into signing withdrawal applications for their complaints of custodial violence and torture.

The division bench briefly heard and admitted the petition, scheduling the matter for further hearing on June 28, while instructing the petitioners to provide a copy of their plea to the public prosecutor.

The case has drawn attention to the alleged misconduct by the Junagarh Police, leaving a pressing need for a comprehensive investigation into the allegations of police brutality and custodial violence. — IANS

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