We condemn the blatantly communal actions and harassment of human rights activists by B. A. Padmanayan (Police Commissioner, Hubli-Dharwad), S. M. Pratapan (DCP – Law & Order, Hubli-Dharwad) and Sachin Chalawadi (Police Inspector, Old Hubli Police Station)
We demand immediate suspension of these 3 police officers and their prosecution.
Praja Rajakiya Vedike applied for police permission on 3rd December, 2012 to hold a rally and public meeting in Hubli on 11th December 2012 along with other human rights organizations. The purpose of the rally is to press for an end to the human rights violations of ordinary people with a focus on the arrest of innocent Muslim youth and fabrication of false evidence against them.
The Old Hubli police station had given us permission in writing on 7th December 2012. When we approached Town Police Station on 7th December 2012, we were told to collect the permission letter from Police Commissioner’s office on 8th December 2012. When we contacted the Police Commissioner’s office on 8th December 2012, Mr. Ullikashi, the in-charge officer told us that the Commissioner was not in the office on 8th and 9th (9th being a Sunday (holiday)), and requested us to collect the permission letter on 10th December, Monday. On Sunday evening we visited Old Hubli Police Station on their request.
During our meeting with Mr. Sachin Chalawadi, Police Inspector told us that there is a leaflet being circulated in the area about this planned protest and that banned organizations such as SIMI are taking part in our rally, when we questioned him about these statements and clarified that Students Islamic Organization (SIO) which is one of organisation involved in this protest is not SIMI, (and has no links with SIMI) he took back his statement. But he continued to say that we can’t question police actions through public rally and the only way to question police actions is through the court of law. We stated that freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed by the constitution of India and that the citizens of India have rights to question police actions publicly.
On Monday morning we visited Mr. G. M. Desur (ACP, South, Hubli) after getting a phone call from him. He also stated that he can’t permit our rally as it will create a law and order problem in the area. He also stated that we can’t question police actions through public rally and the only way to question police actions is through court of law. He also stated that they can’t permit a public meeting near Ambedkar Statue, near Hubli Railway station except on Ambedkar Jayanthi day.
On Monday afternoon we went to the office of Police Commissioner of Hubli-Dharwad. After waiting for more than 2 hours, only one of us, Mr. Mallappa Kumbar was permitted to meet him, which is discriminatory as we have seen teams of multiple people meeting the Police Commissioner. Mr. B. A. Padmanayan (Police Commissioner, Hubli-Dharwad) and Mr. S. M. Pratapan (DCP – Law & Order, Hubli-Dharwad) harassed and terrorized Mr. Kumbar. They threatened to arrest him under charges of terrorism if he doesn’t stop working for the rights of Muslims. They told him that terrorists are using him. Their behavior was similar to that of goondas – using vulgar and abusive language, threatening to physically beat him. He was coerced into giving a letter stating that he came to know after interacting with Police that the purpose of our rally was not related to that organizations that are co-organizing this and hence he was taking back the request letter to hold the rally and public meeting. He was able to get of this ordeal only after the intervention of the media representatives.
What has happened is nothing but torture of a young activist in the office of Police Commissioner by highest ranking police officials. It is ironic that this happened on the International Human Rights Day. The Hubli police have acted at the behest of communal forces to suppress the legitimate dissent by the religious minorities and secular activists to end communal-bias by police. Hubli-Dharwad police is misusing their power to isolate Muslim community from dalit, backward class, progressive, sexual minority and other marginalized sections of society and break the unity of secular forces.
We demand immediate suspension of all 3 police officers and their prosecution for their communal and illegal actions.
Convenor, Praja Rajakiya Vedike