Debating India

GUJARAT

SRP atrocity leads to tension

Monday 8 December 2003

AHMEDABAD: Tension gripped Saraspur area here on Sunday after a 35-year-old Dalit was allegedly beaten to death by two State Reserve Police (SRP) jawans on Saturday night.

Heavy police bandobast was put in force as a large number of local residents joined the funeral procession of the victim, Punam Parmar, alias Punam Bava. Though the residents expressed anger at the police, city police authorities pointed out that Punam was a historysheeter and been booked in several cases of illicit liquor sale and other criminal offences.

"He was booked under PASA and externed some time ago. The SRP jawans, who are accused of beating him to death, say that Punam was chasing a man with a knife when he was hit with a stick. We are waiting for the post mortem report for conclusive evidence. Action will be taken if they are found guilty," said joint commissioner of police (zone I) PC Thakur. Political parties too joined the protest against the police, alleging "high-handedness on part of the police."

An inquiry, initiated by Thakur, has been entrusted to an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police in-charge of the SC/ST cell, as allegations have been made by local residents - most of whom are Dalits - about the partisan role played by the police. The post mortem was carried out at the Civil Hospital and the procedure videographed to ensure fair investigation.

The incident occurred around 9.30 pm on Saturday near Nirmalpur. Punam,who used to stay at Gopalji Ni Chali, was passing through the area when he was allegedly beaten up by the two SRP jawans, posted there since the riots last year. "Three SRP jawans have been posted at this communally sensitive point as a handful of Muslim-owned houses in this area had been torched," said a police source. Local residents allege that the two SRP jawans were drunk.

They also allege that the jawans were instigated into attacking Punam by a local bootlegger, Pir Mohammad alias Pirio. A case been lodged against the jawans at the Sherkotda police station by the victim’s brother, Chandrakant Parmar, who claims to be an eyewitness to the incident. After the "attack", Punam pulled himself for about 50 feet before falling unconscious. He was then taken to the Shardaben Hospital where he was declared dead. "Blood samples of the jawans have been taken to check if they were drunk on duty," said Thakur.

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