"It’s like ‘police raj’ in the station. If they ask you to sign somewhere, you have to sign it," said one of the arrested whose protestations resulted in a beating, bruises on his back, hands, and legs even 23 days after the incident

While it was homecoming for the 38 arrested in connection with the violence in Kalladka recently, it was a chance to narrate their stories free from the confines of a police station or a jail.

The violations go beyond the arrest of two minors, which was previously reported in The Hindu. While the police said two complaints were “recorded” after the incident, one from the Muslim group and a counter-complaint from the Hindu group, a complainant told The Hindu that he was forced to sign the complaint even though he did not witness the violence.

Requesting anonymity fearing police retaliation, he said he was sleeping at his bakery in Kalladka on June 30 when the police barged in. A total of six people, including the two minors, were arrested from the bakery. “After we heard of the clash, we shut the shop and slept inside. However, around 11 p.m., the police knocked down the backdoor and arrested us all,” he said.

Later at the station, the police asked him to sign the complaint form. “Even though I had repeatedly told the police that I was not there at the scene, they forced me to sign it. It said the fight started after a minor collision between a bike ridden by two Hindu youth and a truck belonging to a Muslim,” said the complainant.

His protestations resulted in a beating, bruises of which can be seen on his back, hands, and legs even 23 days after the incident. “It’s like ‘police raj’ in the station. If they ask you to sign somewhere, you have to sign it,” he said.

The complainant received medical treatment only a day later, when the group was shifted to Udupi jail.

“I told them I was 16 years of age, but the police wrote 18 in the FIR. While taking me to the judge’s house (for grant of judicial custody), a policeman told me if I didn’t tell the judge I was 18, they would beat me up later in the police station,” said Khader (name changed). Although the judge did not enquire, the fear of repercussion kept him quiet through the stay in jail.

For Abdulla (name changed), his quivering answer of 16 translated miraculously to 18 years in the FIR. He had been picked up while he was sleeping, only in his pants, in the bakery. He said when he resisted the arrest, the police hit him twice with their baton. He remained shirtless till the police gave him a T-shirt for the mug shot.

Superintendent of Police Abhishek Goyal said the parents of the minors had been sent notices to produce proof of age. However, even on Sunday, the minors said they had not received any such notice.

On the forcing of complaints, Mr. Goyal said this was a “ploy” to derail the trial process in court. “The two groups have reached a compromise and are now going hostile,” he said. Responding to this, the complainant said a compromise had not yet been reached. He stood by his claim that the complaint was signed through coercion.

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