Women, children, elderly show injuries as proof of police excess at protest

The residents of Gopalpura slum, who were beaten by the Magadi Road police, no longer harbour any illusions about the power of democratic protest. Their anger at not receiving water supply for over a month has been replaced by fear after Thursday evening’s police crackdown.

Only a few of the 200 women allegedly beaten wanted to talk when The Hindu visited the area on Friday. And many of those who spoke did not want to be photographed, fearing further police persecution.

“All this happened because of our local MLA [Dinesh Gundu Rao],” alleged Basha Khan (38).

Echoing his claim, residents claimed Mr. Rao had asked them to gather at the venue for the protest, but never turned up.

“When the police started the lathi-charge, we tried calling him, but he never picked the call,” said Mohsina (21), one of the agitators.

‘We were only women’

Giving her version of what happened, Usha Rani (25) said: “As the MLA had instructed, we marched to the [BWSSB] water tank and blocked the road in front of it. We were only women. It was around 6.30 p.m. At 7.30 p.m., three police jeeps arrived and policemen asked us to stop the agitation. When we refused, they started caning us indiscriminately.”

Ms. Rani’s 14-month-old baby Sandhya too was not spared. “She is running a temperature now,” said the mother.

Her neighbour, Madhavi (60) too has fever, which she claims is a result of the police caning. “Here, here and here,” she said pointing to her head, ribs and legs when asked where she was beaten.

Caught in the melee

Among those allegedly caned was Mohammed Sadiq (65) who was on his way to buy medicines when he got caught in the melee. “I was already ill. Now I can’t even move,” he said pointing to a plaster on his head. To make matters worse, the police have detained his 35-year-old son Zameer.

Stone-pelting

Asked about the police claim that the agitators went berserk and stoned BMTC buses, Amjad Khan (23) said: “Yes, buses were stoned. In fact, some BWSSB officials too were targeted. But that was only when the police started beating innocent women and children.”

‘Without my knowledge’

Mr. Dinesh Gundu Rao, however, disputed these claims and said: “This [protest] happened without my knowledge. They [residents] were overenthusiastic. How would I know that they would pelt stones at buses? It is because of my intervention that the police are not pressing charges against the rioters.”

DCP (West) S.N. Siddaramappa said, “I challenge those claiming police excesses to produce medical certificates. The police only resorted to mild lathi-charge. Women and children were not injured.’

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