Following footages of police vandalising buildings and vehicles in the local media, police heavy-handedness in the name of curbing Gujarat violence has come under focus.
The police violence on Tuesday night and on early Wednesday morning shocked people across the state, as the footages beamed on local television backed reports of cops entering various societies in Ahmedabad and vandalising buildings and vehicles.
“The police action has crossed all limits,” senior BJP leader Gordhan Jhadaphia, who was home minister during the 2002 riots, said. “Senior police officers and the state government must rein them in.”
Hardik Patel, spearhead of the community’s protest demanding OBC status, claimed that police excesses was the major reason for the violence. “They entered our homes, used foul language and beat up women and children,” Hardik said noting that the Gujarat bandh he called on Wednesday.
“We want government to take action against erring policemen for their conduct at GMDC ground and for entering houses. They must be suspended within next 48 hours,” he said.
Gujarat Director General of Police P C Thakur acknowledged that police action was indefensible. “The police must work to instill confidence in the people. The police must be seen to be neutral, along with being firm,” he said.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who earlier praised the police conduct during the Patels’ 'Maha Kranti Rally' on Tuesday, appealed for restraint.
“The police and citizen must work together to ensure peace,” Anandiben said, adding that the government has ordered a probe into the action of a section of the policemen and has called in Army and paramilitary forces to handle the situation.
“Now that we have called in the Army, we would see a visible (change) in the situation,” Anandiben said.
Ahmedabad police commissioner Shivanand Jha defended police action saying arsonists police wanted to capture entered buildings and created the impression that police had initiated violence.
“We are being (unfairly) blamed for high-handed action. We entered the buildings to catch hold of the protestors,” he said, assuring that the police would examine all evidence and take action against policemen found to be harassing people.