Two months after a man died when police resorted to firing pellet guns to disperse a rioting mob in the communally sensitive old city area of Vadodara, a local court on Friday issued notice to the police department on a petition filed by the family of the youth seeking an FIR in connection with the death. Arshad Shaikh, in his late 20s, was fatally injured when a pellet pierced through his eye during the police action on December 8.
The petition, filed by Arshad’s brother Munaf on February 8, appealed to the court to direct police to conduct an investigation into Arshad’s death and book the police officers for a cognizable offence. The petition contended that police officers resorted to “criminal acts” on the night of December 8, 2016, when a communal clash occurred after stones were allegedly hurled at a wedding procession passing through the sensitive Fatehpura area. The situation soon escalated as miscreants from both communities pelted stones at each other, set private vehicles on fire and hurled country bombs at police vehicles, injuring a few policemen.
While Vadodara police had reached the spot and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the crowd, it was also the first time when they also resorted to pellet guns.
In the petition Munaf stated, “Police, so far, have not yet recorded the statements of our family members in this matter, nor have they paid heed to our written application seeking a probe into the grievous injury caused to my brother that resulted in his death on December 19. The injury was caused by the criminal acts of the police officers. Since his death, the police has not lodged a single FIR in the case of his death. Whenever we try to meet senior officers, we are made to wait for endless hours and told that officers are unavailable.”
The petition has held the commissioner of police and the police inspector of City Police Station as respondents in the case. The court of Judicial Magistrate First Class S P Patel admitted the petition and issued notice to police to file their response in the case on February 22. When contacted, Commissioner of Police Manoj Sashidhar said, “We will stand our ground and fight out this case in the court. When it comes to use pellet guns to disperse a rioting mob, Sections 129 and 132 of the CrPC have a provision that gives protection to the officer to use force. There have been instances where a mob situation has gone worse and people have blamed police for not doing anything. There was arson, rioting and it had reached a tipping point when police officers were attacked and we had to use pellet guns and we did so in an unbiased manner. Pellet guns are much less lethal than other forms of bullet. Since that day, the old city area has been quiet.”