Migrant labourers in Bengaluru approach human rights commission seeking protection from police brutality

They alleged that the police were threatening to demolish their huts and to torture them to evict them.

Updated - June 20, 2022 08:16 pm IST

Published - June 20, 2022 07:57 pm IST - Bengaluru

A video grab showing migrant workers complaining about police atrocities in Bengaluru on Monday.

A video grab showing migrant workers complaining about police atrocities in Bengaluru on Monday.

At least two migrant labourers from West Bengal and Delhi, who work as waste collectors, on Monday approached the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) and filed a petition seeking protection from police brutality. They alleged that the police were threatening to demolish their huts and torture them to evict them.

Rabbani Sardar, 52, from West Bengal and Anees Bundu, 38, from Delhi, who are among the hundred-odd labourers staying in a colony on Saibaba Road, Anekal, alleged that the brutality started on June 17, when a group of five to six policemen, attached to the Hebbagodi station, barged into their work site and started abusing and caning them.

They also alleged that the police kicked them and told them to vacate within 24 hours, terming them illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

“We showed them our ID cards stating that we were Indian citizens, but they threw the cards away and beat us mercilessly, and even the women were not spared,“ Mr. Sardar alleged.

Other residents shared similar stories. “The police left the place and warned us that they would come back the next day with a bulldozer. Where should we go? We are just eking out a living by collecting garbage. Anyone listening, please help us,“ appealed Ameena Khatun, a migrant labourer.

It all started when the Madanayakanahalli police busted a racket and arrested nine persons, including three Bangladesh nationals, a few days ago for running a fake ID card racket.

The accused would get PAN, Aadhaar, and other ID cards using fake documents and even have the seal and signature of gazetted officials.

The police started visiting migrant colonies situated mostly on the outskirts of the city and started checking documents.

Residents alleged that the police started calling everyone Bangladeshi nationals randomly. The migrant labourers protested and presented their documents, but the police turned them down, terming them as fake, and told them to vacate or face arrest, they said.

Th police took money from them after beating them up and the incidents were recorded on CCTV cameras, another migrant labourer alleged.

“This amounts to police harassment and innocent people are under constant threat. The police should check and probe, but they should handle with care when it comes to women, children, and senior citizens,” said R. Kaleemullah, member of Swaraj India, a city-based social group helping the labourers.

When a senior police officer was contacted, he said the probe was in continuation of the racket busted recently and the police are looking for Bangladesh nationals. He rubbished allegations of brutality and bribe.

“We are working on the leads that some of the Bangladesh nationals are taking shelter in these colonies with Indian IDs,” he said.

The police are now taking the fingerprints of the migrant labourers and recording their ID details for further investigation.

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