February 9, 2021 3:46:57 am
The second man allegedly tortured to death by Mundra police in Kutch district was cremated in his village after the police assured the family of protecting witnesses in the case and land claimed by the victim’s family, even as a bandh was observed in Mundra taluka of Kutch on Monday.
The family claimed the body of Harjog Gadhvi, 26, and performed his last rites at Samaghogha in Mundra in the afternoon. Gadhvi, a casual labourer, died on Saturday at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital while undergoing treatment for injuries allegedly caused by police torture.
His family initially refused to claim his body, demanding action against the accused policemen and others but changed their stance after assurances from officers of Kutch (west) police.
“We demanded that witnesses, including Shamla, should be given police protection and that the land purchased by the victims’ families should be protected. We also demanded that the victims’ families should be paid compensation. Police accepted our demands and therefore, the family received Harjog’s body and performed his last rites,” said Vijay Gadhvi, president of Akhil Kutch Charan Sabha (AKCS), an organisation of Charan or Gadhvi community of Kutch district.
Saurabh Singh, superintendent of Kutch (west) police, said that the police have agreed to the demands of the family. “We have already started providing protection to witnesses. About compensation, we shall write to the government. The family is claiming that the victims were picked up and beaten up due to a land dispute… whereas the FIR says they were picked up in connection with a theft case. We are investigating…,” Singh said.
JN Panchal, deputy superintendent of police (DySP) of Bhuj division of Kutch (west) police, said that the alleged land dispute is a civil matter. “We have offered them legal help in terms of guiding them as to what authority they can approach for redressal of their grievance,” Panchal, investigating officer of the custodial deaths case, said.
Harjog was the second man to die allegedly due to torture while he was being confined illegally by policemen of Mundra police station from January 16 to January 19. Arjan Gadhvi (27), a resident of Samaghogha, who was picked up by the accused policemen of Mundra on January 12 and was allegedly tortured for a week, died on January 19.
Another man from the same village, Shamla Gadhvi, too, was allegedly picked up by police on January 16 and was beaten up. He was initially admitted to GK General Hospital in Bhuj town of Kutch and was subsequently referred to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital for treatment where he recovered and was discharged.
Based on a complaint filed by Devraj Gadhvi, a distant cousin of Arjan, police booked headconstables Shaktisinh Gohil, Ashok Kannad and Jaydevsinh Jhala attached to Mundra police station for murder, custodial torture and illegal confinement. Later, the Bhuj DySP arrested then Mundra police inspector JA Padhiyar and Viral Joshi, a home guard attached to the Mundra police station even as the three headconstables are still at large.
The investigation officer says that they are also looking for two constables of Mundra police—Kapil Desai and Gafurji Thakor, and Jayvirsinh Jadeja, former sarpanch of Samaghogha village, for allegedly torturing the victims at the Mundra police station. They are still on the run, while the inspector and the home guard are in judicial custody.
Devraj, an advocate in Mundra, claimed that the families of Harjog and Shamla purchased around four acres of land from Jayvirsinh’s family a few decades ago. “However, the Gadhvis did not follow the procedure to get the land transferred into their names in government records due to not having any knowledge of laws. They constructed homes on that land and are living in them. Now the land price has appreciated and Jayvrirsinh’s family sold that land to someone else by forging documents,” Devraj told The Indian Express.
A bandh was observed in Mundra taluka even as AKCS held a meeting of Gadhvi community in Samghogha. “It was decided to form a legal committee comprising retired policemen from Gadhvi community and advocates to provide legal assistance to the victims’ families,” Vijay Gadhvi said.