The Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission in India sprang into action on Saturday, seeking a report from the Betul Collector and Superintendent of Police on the reported thrashing of a lawyer by the police, who later told him they mistook him for a Muslim, since he sported a beard.
Chairman of the Commission Narendra Kumar Jain on Friday took cognisance of the reported thrashing on March 23, when Deepak Bundele, a diabetic, was on his way to a hospital.
The Commission has demanded a report on the incident within two weeks from now.
After the incident, Bundele, who reportedly sustained bruises and was left with a bleeding ear, went to a hospital, where he was treated and a medico-legal report was prepared.
Meanwhile, the Betul police on Wednesday said the thrashing never took place and there were no witnesses. Bundele had also filed a Right to Information application to retrieve the CCTV footage of the incident. However, two months later, he was not given the CCTV footage.
This runs contrary to a policeman’s previous remarks, who visited Bundele on May 17 to record a statement, “He looks like a Muslim. It was a confusion… He had a long beard. Sometimes, such incidents happen. I made it clear that sometimes the police make mistakes, and for that we apologize. But, he didn’t listen. And he went ahead with the statement.”
Furthermore, Bundele had reportedly recorded the conversation with the policemen on the day. “Police, whenever there are Hindu-Muslim riots, always sides with the Hindus, even Muslims know about this. But this incident happened; it was a mistake. We are left with no words,” one of the policemen is heard saying in the recording, now public and based on which the police suspended one of them.
“…So, you are saying they thrashed me thinking I am a Muslim?” Mr. Bundele asked them in the recording, to which one of them replied, “Yes, that is the case, your beard is long too. He [the attacker] is an orthodox Hindu man.”
The police are yet to register a case in the issue.
Bundele has further accused the police of pressing him to withdraw the complaint. In the recording, one of the policemen is heard asking him not to record his statement, but attests to the incident.