The MPHRC has sought a reply on the matter from Betul collector and superintendent of police within two weeks. Deputy Deneral of Police Vivek Jauhri said it was a one-off incident.
The Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) on Friday took cognisance of an incident wherein a lawyer, who was allegedly bashed by some policemen in Betul district, was told that he was mistaken for a Muslim. On Thursday, an assistant sub-inspector was suspended in this connection.
The complainant, Deepak Bundele, has alleged that he was stopped by police when he was going to Betul district hospital on March 23, when restrictions on movement had been imposed in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
The journalist-turned-lawyer told police that he was going to hospital for treatment, but he was beaten up mercilessly, he alleged. He managed to reach hospital somehow.
Later, he filed complaints with several authorities, seeking registration of an FIR against the policemen who had assaulted him.
Bundele said local police were now presssurising him to withdraw the complaint and he was denied CCTV footage of the area where the incident took place under the Right to Information.
Investigating officer BS Patel visited his house on May 17 to record his statement, the lawyer said, claiming that Patel told him that “the cops (who allegedly thrashed him) mistook you as a member of the minority community due to your beard.”
In a yet-to-be verified audio clip that the lawyer claimed he had recorded secretly, a man is heard telling Bundele that he was mistaken for a Muslim and was beaten up by his colleagues as he was sporting a beard.
“Several such incidents had taken place around that time so policemen were upset,” the man is heard saying in the audio clip, adding police normally take the side with Hindus during communal riots.
The MPHRC has sought a reply on the matter from Betul collector and superintendent of police within two weeks.
Amid an outrage against the police force, Deputy Deneral of Police Vivek Jauhri said it was a one-off incident. “Betul incident is an aberration. Painting such one-off incident on entire MP Police force is unacceptable. The officer has been suspended on Wednesday as the incident come to notice. DIG HSH conducting a detailed inquiry in the incident,” Jauhri worte on Twitter.
On Friday, Bundele told News18 that his complaint is yet to be registered and police officers only approached him with compromise offers.
While Betul SP DS Bhadauria could not be reached for a comment, Additional SP Shradhha Joshi said no FIR on lawyer’s complaint has been filed as the latter has not specified anyone’s name in the complaint.
She further said that policemen on duty on the day of the incident had registered in the daily register about the lawyer misbehaving with them. Joshi said Bunddele had threatened the officers when they asked him why he was not wearing a mask amid the pandemic.
When told that the lockdown was not in place yet at the time of the incident, Joshi said prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were in place in Betul in the wake of some public rallies being held in Indore during Janata curfew on March 22.
“The lawyer has been asked to record his statement on the audio clip issue and action will be taken as facts emerge in the case,” she said.
“I am also inquiring why no FIR was lodged in connection with the misbehaviour from the lawyer against the men in uniform,” said Joshi.