Surat police arrested 40 people in a rioting case and sent them to judicial custody on Tuesday evening. The arrests pertain to the violence that broke out during a rally held in protest against a lynching in Jharkhand. The total number of people arrested is now 49 people, and includes some Congress party leaders.
The police had originally filed a complaint against 4,000 people, as several people in the rally clashed with police, allegedly injuring some policemen, when their rally was halted midway. Congress leaders appealed to Surat police Commissioner Satish Sharma to ensure that only those spotted on CCTV footage committing violence should be arrested, and not innocent people.
Advocate Babu Pathan, president of an organisation called the Versatile Minority Forum, and others had organised what was meant to be a peaceful march from Badekhan Chakla to the Surat district collector’s office on Friday afternoon to condemn the mob lynching of a person identified as Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand. However, police refused permission. Nevertheless, the rally was held, with around 10,000 people walking the route, holding banners condemning the lynching. But police blocked their path before they could reach the collector’s office, which resulted in heated arguments and subsequently ended up in the crowd allegedly pelting stones at the police. The police then used tear gas and lathi charge to control the crowd and fired two rounds in the air. In this clash, four police officials incurred minor injuries, while two police vehicles and two BRTS buses were damaged.
Surat police registered a case of rioting and attempt to murder against 32 people including two municipal councillors, former municipal councillors, Congress leaders, and three lawyers, apart from a mob of over 4000 people.
On Friday and Saturday, the police arrested nine people including Advocate Babu Pathan alias Ishtiyak Pathan, Congress Municipal Councillor Aslam Cyclewala, Congress legal cell president Advocate Feroz Pathan, Congress party leader Ikbal Farham, and others. All the arrested persons are now in judicial custody at Surat district central jail.
The Surat police are continuing their investigation to identify and arrest the remaining accused. Hundreds of policemen carried out a combing operation in Badekhan Chakla, Dingli falia, Kadarshah naal, in this regard and arrested 40 people on Monday night. Several others will be arrested in the coming days, police said. All the 40 arrested persons were produced before court and sent to the central jail under judicial custody.
“We have arrested 40 more, apart from the nine arrested earlier, in the rioting and attempt to murder incident,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhari said. “We have arrested those who are spotted in the video footage of CCTV cameras and mobile video clippings. We are also looking for others who were inciting people and they will also be arrested soon.”
On Monday afternoon, Surat city Congress president Babu Rayka along with senior Congress leaders Naishad Desai, Pappan Togadiya (Leader of Opposition in Surat Municipal Corporation), Mahendra Sutariya, Hasmukh Desai (former president of Surat city Congress), Shambu Prajapati (Senior Congress leader) and others met Commissioner Satish Sharma.
Rayka said he appealed to the city police chief, saying “the time has come to establish brotherhood and peaceful atmosphere in the city” as panic had spread since the peaceful march turned violent. “We have requested that innocent should not be held. Surat police has got CCTV footage and mobile video clips of the incident. They should arrest only accused persons. We have got a positive response from the police commissioner and he has assured us that no innocent person will be arrested.