29 booked for rioting, activists cry police brutality in Ahmedabad

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Ahmedabad, July 27 (IANS) Three policemen were injured in stone-pelting by members of a notified tribe during checking of vehicles to prevent liquor smuggling in Chharanagar area here, following which 29 persons were booked for rioting and other offences, police said on Friday.

On the other hand, social activists cried police brutality, with a local lawyers’ body claiming that three of their members were also injured in police action late Thursday night. They sought immediate suspension of the erring policemen.

Ahmedabad Police ACP Ashok Yadav said: “Some people are involved in ferrying alcohol illegally on small vehicles (in Chharanagar area). After a tip-off, we were checking vehicles when the policemen on duty were abused and pelted with stones. Three of our men were injured.”

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While police denied the charge of beating up people and damaging vehicles, CCTV footage of the incident and police driving to the deserted area began doing the rounds on the social media.

“We have not received or seen such videotapes but when we do, we will review these and initiate action against erring policemen,” the ACP said.

Chharanagar is a ghetto in Ahmedabad housing over 20,000 members of the Chhara tribe.

Some members of the community are into brewing illegal liquor, due to which police frequently raids the area. However, the community is also known for its contribution to the fields of art, including theatre and movie-making, through many progressive intellectuals.

Though police claimed that some youngsters from the community abused them and attacked them, the Chharas alleged that an inebriated Police Sub-Inspector entered into an altercation with a local Jigar Indrekar, triggering the fracas.

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The community members claimed that a group of 300-400 policemen entered the area inhabited by the Chharas soon after and began beating up people. They also damaged parked vehicles with batons.

Many social activists gathered outside Sardarnagar police station during the day and alleged police “brutality and atrocities” on the community members.

The protesters threatened legal action.

“If there is any violation by any individual, police should have acted against that individual only and not against the entire community. This is an organised attack. Besides, such large force should not be used, that too without women constables, to beat up even women,” lawyer activist Samshad Pathan said.

“Many people, including three lawyers and a photojournalist, have been beaten up. They have fractured a lawyer’s hands. It is not mob lynching but police lynching. We, the legal fraternity, will fight back,” local Bar Council member Anil Kella said.

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