Activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI) pelted stones at the Mangaluru Police Commissioner’s office and at two KSRTC buses during a protest on Tuesday. The activists were protesting the arrest of party activist Ahmed Qureshi, in connection with the Prakash Poojary murder, and were demanding that he be released.
The irked PFI members shouted slogans alleging that the police had brutally tortured Qureshi and stormed the gates of the Commissioner’s office. They also tried to lockdown the place. A few of them also resorted to pelting stones at two KSRTC buses and windows of the Commissioner’s office.
Within a few minutes the Mangaluru City Police mobilised over 50 police personnel, who resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the angry protestors.
“Some of the protestors were injured during the lathi charge and have been admitted to the district hospital. The total count of injured persons is not yet known,” said Mangaluru Police Commissioner, Chandra Sekhar.
“Seven police personnel, who were deployed on the spot for calming the crowd, were injured as PFI activists threw stones at them and some of them were also manhandled. Then they started throwing stones at our office and also the buses, which is why the police resorted to lathi charge. We have currently detained 72 PFI activists at the Urva Police Station,” Commissioner Chandra Sekhar said.
He said that the activists had not obtained prior permission to conduct the protest. “We never deny permission for protests if they are peaceful and the protestors do not resort to injuring others and damaging property. What we witnessed today was the actions of an angry mob, not a peaceful protest,” he added.
The Commissioner said that the activists, who gathered in front of his office at around 10.30 am, had also blocked traffic despite the police repeatedly requesting them to move aside.
“In response, they began pelting stones at the office and also government offices located adjacent to ours. In this process, ACP Uday Nayak and ACP Sruthi, Mangaluru South Inspector Belliappa and four police constables were injured,” he said.
Ahmed Qureshi, a resident of Katipalla in Mangaluru district, was arrested on March 21 by Central Crime Branch in the Suratkal Police Station limits. The prostesting activists alleged that the police had tortured Qureshi brutally while he was in police custody till March 27. The protestors also demanded that PFI Vice President, Khader Kulai, who is also an accused in the case and is currently absconding, must not be arrested.
Speaking at the protest, Qureshi’s parents said, “The police tortured him mercilessly in confinement. He was admitted to the district Wenlock Hospital when he developed a complication. The doctors have said that one of his kidneys is not functional. This is how brutally the Central Crime Branch officers treated our son.”
Refuting the outfit’s claim that Qureshi was tortured, Commissioner Chandra Sekhar said that when Qureshi was produced before the magistrate on March 28, Qureshi had stated that he had sustained the injuries in a road accident.
“The magistrate remanded him to judicial custody and transferred him to a hospital where he underwent treatment. He is still in judicial custody,” he said.