Ahmedabad police raided Chharanagar area around Thursday midnight and booked 29 people belonging to Chharas community, a denotified tribe, for alleged rioting, loot and attacking an officer on duty. According to the police, a couple of Chhara boys, who were reportedly inebriated, had an argument with a policeman and “assaulted” him. The police action followed soon after.
Daxin Chhara, a filmmaker who lives in the area and was also injured, told The Indian Express, “The police raids were unwarranted. The matter should have ended with a case booked against the drunk boys who assaulted the policeman.”
According to Chhara, “There were over 500 cops who crashed inside people’s houses and beat them. Three people, including a woman, who were assaulted by cops, were taken to civil hospital in 108 (ambulance). Even these complainants were detained from the civil hospital and taken to police station. Theatre artists and press photographers were among those detained”. Daxin is the director of Samir, a recent Bollywood film.
Chhara claimed 80 people were picked up, while the assistant commissioner of police J P Raol said 29 were detained and booked at Sardarnagar Police station. The Chharas are due to address a press conference outside the police station at noon.
“Our sub-inspector Mori, had gone there (Chharanagar) to conduct raids when at least 150-200 Chharas attacked and assaulted him and looted him. We then sent our vehicles and combed the entire area and rounded them up, said Raol. He said everything happened after midnight.
Videos posted on social media showed about 8-10 police vehicles, beacons on, driving into the locality, even as no one was seen on the streets.
The Chharas are seeking action from the National Human Rights Commission. Danseuse and activist Mallika Sarabhai has rallied behind them, apart from Nirjhari Sinha of Jan Sangharsh Manch.
The Chharas are known for making a living by brewing liquor. Known also for their artistic streak, Budhan Theatre is run by them.