Mangaluru police firing on Dec 19 was excessive: Fact-finding reports conclude

The reports were compiled by a people's tribunal and a fact-finding team of human rights activists.
Mangaluru police firing on Dec 19 was excessive: Fact-finding reports conclude
Mangaluru police firing on Dec 19 was excessive: Fact-finding reports conclude
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Two fact-finding reports published on the police firing, which took the lives of two people in Mangaluru on December 19, 2019, alleged that the Muslim community was specifically targeted and called for a judicial inquiry into the incident. 

The first report, compiled by a people’s tribunal comprising of former Supreme Court judge Justice Gopala Gowda, former State Public Prosecutor BT Venkatesh and journalist Sugata Srinivasaraju, questioned the police's justification for opening fire on protesters. "The story of the police that there was attack on Bander Police Station by a crowd of 7000 persons appears greatly exaggerated," it stated.

The report further added that the police failed to communicate the imposition of prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which bars the assembly of four or more people. "Granting permission (for the protest) on the day and revocation of the same on the very day without effectively communicating the same was incorrect," the report added. 

In addition, the report also raised concerns over the police's decision to use tear gas inside Highland Hospital, where the bodies of the victims were taken to. “From the footage available, it is not discernable why the police authorities entered the hospital premises and proceeded to use tear gas,” the report stated.

The people's tribunal report noted that both the victims and those arrested for their part in the protests were Muslims. "It is observed that a number of persons have been arrested and continue to be in judicial custody. It is observed that most of the victims are from the Muslim community. The claims that the persons belonging to Muslim community were targeted gains some credence from the same," reads the report.

Meanwhile, a fact-finding report compiled by a team of human right activists from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have concluded that the police action leading to the killing of two people was 'excessive' and it allegedly specifically targeted the Muslim community. The report was compiled by activists belonging to the All India People's Forum (AIPF), People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO).

As part of the demand, the report sought the immediate suspension of Mangaluru Police Commissioner and a judicial inquiry into the police firing. It also sought a probe into the police barging into Ibrahim Khaleel mosque and Highland Hospital. Further the team of activists demanded that the ex-gratia compensation announced by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, which was later withdrawn, to be immediately released to the victims’ families.

The fact-finding team alleged that the police infuriated the Muslim community by selectively targeting shops and mosques. 

Jaleel Kudroli and Nausheen were hit by bullets fired by the police and succumbed to death during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Mangaluru. The victims have since been booked for rioting and their families have been denied compensation by the Karnataka government. 

In the aftermath of the violent incident, a curfew was imposed in Dakshina Kannada district for three days. Mobile internet services were suspended in the district for 48 hours. Police officials in Mangaluru attempted to justify their actions by posting videos of protesters pelting stones on December 19 in different parts of Mangaluru. However, other videos have emerged showing police firing at protesters from a distance and discussing why “no one has fallen dead”.

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