HRLN condemns police brutality against members of Denotified Tribal community in Gujarat

Human Rights Law Network condemns the unlawful arrest of 29 persons and the use of excess and brutal force by Gujarat police against residents of Ahmedabad’s Chharanagar in July. The violence started on the intervening night of July 28-29, when a sub-inspector from the Sardarnagar police station, DK Mori, clashed with locals in Chharanagar. Some members of the community – a ‘Denotified Tribe’ (DNT) called Chharas – traditionally brew liquor to make their living. While several versions of the truth are currently doing the rounds, eyewitnesses report that Mori was drinking alcohol that night. After the altercation, an incensed Mori called for police backup, which, when it arrived, proceeded to damage vehicles and drag residents of their houses and beat them up. HRLN advocate Govind Parmar arrived at the scene to uncover facts of the case as well as to extend support to the oft-targeted community. Over the past few months, according to news reports, the community has been subjected to increased police brutality on the pretext of cracking down on liquor production and sales. Photographs from the area show damaged cars and residents showing their injuries to the press. Among those attacked (and subsequently, arrested) were journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and students. Women were also assaulted despite there being no female personnel present. One of the advocates who was beaten up in the melee told us that the beatings left his wife with a fractured arm. The arrested persons have been charged with robbery, voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty, rioting, unlawfully gathering, causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others, mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50, and obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions. Interestingly, none of them have been booked under sections of the Gujarat Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2017. Following the arrests, residents filed a complaint before the Magistrate. In the meantime, the cases of the arrested persons have been taken up by lawyers from the Chharra community and members of the Ahmedabad Criminal Bar Association. HRLN advocates in Gujarat extend their support to the innocent victims of police excesses and vow to continue fighting for the rights of the Indian people.