When two of Akram’s* friends went out to have tea past midnight in Bengaluru, little did the duo know that their leisurely stroll would be interrupted by policemen who would allegedly ask them if they were Pakistanis.
This alleged incident against a group of students and young professionals in Bengaluru came to light after a post on social media. The post said that a few students were picked up by SG (Suddeguntepalya) Palya Police in the wee hours of Tuesday from a street near Forum Mall. The police allegedly physically and verbally abused three students and also called them Pakistanis as “they were Muslim”. All the students belong to Kerala and study in different colleges in the city.
Narrating the events of the night, Akram tells TNM that it was around 1.30 am when the police stopped two of his friends who had gone out to have tea. “Some policemen stopped one of them, and forced him to show photographs on his phone,” he says.
“Things escalated when one of them asked if the police can check personal belongings without a search warrant. One of the policemen shouted that he will take them to the lockup and show him every warrant there. All this was happening right below my apartment and hearing all the noise, we all went down,” he adds.
When Akram reached downstairs, a policeman asked his name, and then demanded an ID which Akram offered to get from the apartment upstairs. “Then the policemen started asking me ‘Are you a Pakistani?’ and he kept mentioning there are two terrorists who got arrested. This is when all of us got really upset, and started questioning him. The policeman then got on the bike and held me by my collar -- this is when my friend started taking a video on his phone.”
By this time, one of Akram’s friends had returned with his ID. However, the policeman allegedly kept being aggressive and told Akram’s friend who was taking the video not to do so. “Then he called other policemen who came in a hoysala, and they also started shouting at us. At this point, one policeman came out of the car with a stick and the other two officers pushed us inside by holding and dragging us by the collar.”
Akram and all of his five friends who were there were allegedly taken to the police station. There, three of them – Akram, and the two who were stopped by the policemen initially – were allegedly beaten up. “Only one policeman was beating us with a lathi, while the other two were just watching. He kept on asking ‘do you want a warrant now?’ and ‘I will ruin your career and I will tell every company in Bengaluru that you are not fit enough to work’. He hit us on our back, hips and head. He kept on hitting but made sure that we were not bleeding. The friend who was shooting the video was hit on that hand,” Akram alleges.
Following that, police booked petty cases against them and fined them Rs 500 each. All the three were also made to write an apology letter for “going out late in the night”. They were allowed to leave after over an hour and a half, around 3.30 am.
Social media highlights incident
The social media account which highlighted their alleged ordeal added in a subsequent post said, “Then they were picked up by the police and forcibly shoved into their van. They were taken into custody. During their time in lock-up, they were brutally hit with sticks on their hands and private parts. Then they were booked on account of public nuisance.”
Welcome to NEW INDIA— CAA / NRC Protest Info. (@NrcProtest) January 14, 2020
Yet another case of police brutality took place against students in Bengaluru on 14th January 2020.
Police from SG Palya area physically and verbally abused three students. The students were called Pakistanis on account that they were Muslim. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/I2Vh80tS1V
In the video shared with the same post, a man in police attire is seen asking the person shooting the video to turn off the camera. The person shooting the video is heard saying that he has every right to shoot the video as it is a public place.
The second post also attaches three photographs, including one of the policemen who allegedly hit the students. The other two photos show bruises from the alleged beating, and a screenshot of a few messages describing the incident respectively.
After the events of Tuesday night, one of the victims and family members approached local MLA Ramalinga Reddy for help. Following this, DCP Whitefield, who is also overseeing the southeast division temporarily, was informed and he has sought an enquiry.
Police denies brutality
According to Inspector Ramesh, the video was shot when a group of students were asked by beat cops at 1:30 am in the morning about why they were out on the streets that late in the night. He claimed the police on duty had only asked for IDs and did not call them Pakistanis.
“We did not call them Pakistanis or beat them in lock-up. The incident occurred behind Christ College area. Beat constables were in uniform but the students did not produce ID,” Inspector Ramesh told TNM.