A Magistrate Court report has stated that videos from last year’s incident involving the public flogging of Muslim youth in Gujarat’s Kheda are of poor quality and hinder the identification of the accused police officers.
Nadiad CJM Chitra Ratnoo’s report to the Gujarat High Court identifies only 4 of the 14 policemen accused in the incident. This includes a Local Crime Branch Inspector, Sub-Inspector, Head Constable, and a Constable, according to Live Law.
“The pictures are blurred on zooming in and videos are taken from distance, so it is difficult to ascertain the persons amongst the respondents as well as applicants in the videos and photographs.All the photos in pen drive are screenshots of the videos and of the social or print media regarding the incidence,” read the report accessed by Live Law.
In July, a division bench of Justices AS Supehia and MR Mengdey ordered the CJM to analyze the pen drives and other electronic evidence, including videos related to the incident. This direction was given in response to a plea moved by 5 members of an affected family seeking contempt action against the accused police officers.
As per the CJM’s report, onlookers and bystanders recorded the videos from a distance. A police van from the Kheda police is visible on the left side of the pole, the report reveals.
“Other men with and without stick can be seen in the scene of incident. Men can also be seen holding mobiles as if capturing the videos. The public can be seen cheering up. Those men who were seen receiving blows and those who were giving blows by the stick are seen in Civil Dresses,” the report added.
The identified police officers are 1) AV. Parmar, Inspector, 2) D.B. Kumavat, Sub Inspector, 3) Kanaksingh Laxman Singh, Head Constable and 4) Raju Rameshbhai Dabhi, Constable.
On October 4, 2022, in Kheda district, Gujarat state, police arrested 13 people for allegedly throwing stones at a “Garba” ceremonial dance during a Hindu festival. A police officer in civilian clothes wearing a gun holster was filmed publicly flogging several Muslim men with sticks while other officials held the men against an electricity pole.
In videos shown and even praised on some television news networks, several uniformed police officers watch the flogging and strike the accused with sticks, while a crowd of men and women cheer and applaud.
The incident sparked massive outrage online, prompting the police to order an inquiry into the incident and the officers involved.
Following the incident, four individuals – Jahirmiya Malek (62), Maksudabanu Malek (45), Sahadmiya Malek (23), Sakilmiya Malek (24) and Shahidraja Malek (25) – filed a petition with the Gujarat high court against 15 police personnel – the inspector general (IG), the superintendent of police (SP), Kheda; 10 constables from the Matar police station; and three officers from the local crime branch (LCB).
Apart from Parmar and Kumavat, the police personnel who have been issued notice are LCB; H.M. Rabari, Sub Inspector, Matar police station; Kanaksinh Laxmansinh Dabhi, Head Constable, LCB; Mahesh Rabari, Head Constable, LCB; Jayesh Rabari, Head Constable, LCB; Ruturajsinh Gopalsinh Parmar, Head Constable, LCB; Ashwin, Head Constable, LCB; Vanrajsinh Bhagubhai, Head Constable, LCB; Arjunsinh, Head Constable, LCB; Vishnu Harjibhai Rabari, Constable, Matar police station; Rajubhai Rameshbhai Dabhi, Constable, LCB; Mahipatsinh Bhagwatsinh Chauhan, Constable, Matar police station; and the offices of SP Kheda and the IG (Ahmedabad range) whose jurisdiction includes Kheda district.