Fear Rules This Gujarat Village After Public Flogging Of Muslims

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Fear Rules This Gujarat Village After Public Flogging Of Muslims

| Updated: October 7, 2022 19:06

A police inspector in plain clothes, lathi in hand, flogs five men – one after the other – who are tied to an electricity pole. One of his colleagues’ tasks is to remove mobile phones and wallets from the pockets of those lined up for the beatings, while two more cops forcefully lift the men who fell to their knees after several blows to their bodies.

Cheering on the lathi-wielding cop – identified as AV Parmar from the Local Crime Branch of the Kheda district, and his colleague, Sub-Inspector DB Kumavat – were dozens of men and women, chanting slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

The flogging took place in a tiny hamlet called Undhela on October 3, a day after Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Undhela is located barely 46-km from Ahmedabad.

The men at the receiving end of the police lathi, all Muslims, are accused of disrupting a garba and pelting stones at the revellers on October 2. Their public trial, punishment, and humiliation has once again shamed Gujarat.

Undhela village of Kheda district in Gujarat (map)

The village sarpanch, Indravadan Patel, who had organised the garba as part of his ‘vow’ after winning the village election, wants ‘exemplary’ punishment against 43 Muslim men he has filed a police complaint against. Indravadan had pledged to organise a garba an open space adjacent to a madrassa.  He had pledged to do this during the 2021 panchayat elections, which he duly won.


This Navratri, back to its full glory after two years of Covid-19 mayhem, saw massive turnouts across the state. This also led to skirmishes between Hindus and Muslims, after many organisers insisted on ID cards for entry.

In Undhela on October 2, a few people from the minority community tried to prevent the event which, for the first time in the village’s history, was held in an open space adjacent to a Madrassa. Around 400 Hindus started playing Garba at 10 pm in the village chowk near the Tulja Bhavani temple. At 11.30 pm, over 35 agitated people associated with the madrassa started pelting stones at the pandal in protest.

Village area where Navratri celebration took place all these years

The scenes became increasingly dire after the police arrived. The next morning, the police pinned five of the stone-pelters to an electricity pole at a chowk. One cop with a holstered gun on his belt repeatedly flogged them with a stick even as onlookers applauded and cheered.

The police are yet to name the personnel seen in the video clips. DGP Ashish Bhatia said: “We have ordered an inquiry. Action will be taken only after the inquiry”. Meanwhile, Indravadan in his police complaint has primarily accused Undhela residents Arif Miya Shaikh and Zahir Miya Malek, among others, of unleashing a barrage of stones and vandalising the vehicle of the DJ.

Undhela Village chowk where Navratri celebration took place

The FIR has been registered against 43 Muslims. Things have come to such a pass in the Undhela village that a majority of Muslims have fled the place or are in police custody.

Patel told VOI, “We were peacefully playing Garba on the public ground. What’s wrong with that? We had taken prior permission. We demand strict action against those who threatened and physically harmed us. There were hundreds of them.”

Deepsinh Sisodia (19) recounted how her father, Punabhai Sisodia, suffered grievous injuries on the head. “He had to be admitted to a local hospital. My father is a farmer and we were peacefully enjoying this auspicious festival when about 100 Muslim men attacked us. I think the police dealt with them in the right manner. They should be shamed in public.”

 Entrance of Undhela village of Kheda district

Another resident of the village, Ghanshyam Sisodia (23), who works as a security guard suffered a hand injury. “It’s a public place. Why can’t we celebrate our festival there? Now, I can’t work on account of this hand injury. In just a few days, Muslims will celebrate their festival. Let’s see what happens then.”

Kheda Superintendent of Police (SP) Rajesh Gadhia said, “We have formed a team led by Kapadvanj Taluka Deputy Superintendent of Police, VM Solanki, to look into the matter. We are identifying if the video is morphed and edited, and if it’s not then who were the Muslim youth tied to the electric pole and beaten up?”

He reminded that Undhela is insulated from violence and, bar the scenes during the Godhra riots, the village is peaceful. Gadhia, however, remained tight-lipped when asked why the police mauled the suspects in public.

A couple of Muslims VOI spoke to said some rabble-rousers incited the police.  Shabana Malek, a resident of the village, told VOI, “Led by the sarpanch, some eight men entered our house at around 2 AM, with a female police constable who stood at the gate cursing us.”

Silent streets of Undhela village post the incident 

She added, “They destroyed our property, threatened our children and didn’t hesitate to enter our house even though we were alone. As villagers, we trusted our Sarpanch but he let us down. In fact, he encouraged the police to harass us. They inspected our houses, but why didn’t they do the same with the Hindus? Both sides were involved in the conflict, right?”

VOI is in possession of pictures of properties – cupboards, beds and doors – that were damaged by the police.

“We don’t mind Navratri celebration in the chowk but the Sarpanch should have taken us into confidence,” said Khatum Shaikh. “They should have informed us in advance. Aren’t we part of the village?”

Senior advocate Mihir J Thakore believes the police’s actions were unbecoming of the values of the profession. “If the accused are arrested, they should have been taken into police custody. It is illegal to tie them to an electrical pole and beat them in public. If the accused were trying to escape or misbehaving, then it was a different matter. This is a classic case of being unfair to people.”

Ghanshyam Sisodia who was injured due to stone pelting during the Navratri celebration 

Congress MLA Imran Khedawala of the Jamalpur-Khadia constituency seconded the view. He told VOI, “Whoever tries to disturb law and order should be punished. This is un-debatable. Shaming and beating the accused in public incites hatred on either side. This matter should have gone to court. Also, what was the need for the sarpanch to organise an event in a communally-sensitive area? Wasn’t this an intention to add fuel to the fire?”

The president of Madhya Gujarat Muslim Samaj Seva Samiti, Abdul Karim Malek, believes the undercurrent of political polarisation is apparent even during festivals. “If I were around, I would have served water and sherbet during Navratri. Why can’t we participate in each other’s celebrations? I think this is a politically motivated incident. Young Hindus and Muslims have become victims of political agendas and end up spreading hate. Due to such incidents, both sides have everything to lose.”

 Madrassa adjacent to a Hindu temple in Undhela village 

Lamenting the incident, the Minister of State for Home, Harsh Sanghavi, held the view that the episode was masterminded by anti-social elements to shatter the tranquility of the village.

Undhela is home to 821 families and has a population of 4169. The villagers here engage themselves in farming and agrarian activities. The Thakors, the Patels and the Prajapatis are some of the main communities residing here. Muslims constitute 1/3rd of Undhela’s village population, around 1,389.

For now, fear and unrest have gripped this otherwise tranquil village. October 2 might haunt them for a long time and perhaps life in Undhela will never be the same again.

Muslim women of Undhela village complaining about police atrocities 

1)      The FIR names 43 people accused in the matter:

Arifmia Sheikh, Zahirmia Malek, Najirmia Malek, Tofik Saiyed, Bakamia

Subamia, Pirumia Bhikhamia, Subamia Shamsher, Ikbal Subamia, Shaukat Vepari,

Lalumia Babumia, Shabeer Siddiq, Ahmedmia Siddiqmia, Arif’s sister Maksudabanu,

Khara Kuva’s Sameer, Talib, Salim, Jalal, Ahmed Dukanwala, Zakirmia Mayudin,

Kalumia Hussainmia, Rajumia Bismillah, Muhammad Arif Saiyed, Vasim Hussain

Sheikh, Yakubmia Malek, Imranmia Pathan, Aayub Driver, Sadamhussain Malek,

Namibia Malek, Samirkhan Pathan, Munio Rok, Naushaad Saiyed, Sajid Katoro, Rajumia

Shaikh, MMustakim Hussain Malek, Iqbalmia Malek, Arifmia Malek, Sadikmia Malek,

Shehzadmia Malek, Sahidraza Malek, Sakilmia Shaikh and Mahammad Moin Shaikh.

2) All the accused, including the unidentified mob, have been booked under various IPC sections, including 307

(attempt to murder), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed

with a deadly weapon likely to cause death) and 295A (deliberate and malicious

acts intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting religion or religious beliefs).

TMC moves NHRC

The TMC has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission in connection with the public flogging of Muslim men by Gujarat Police personnel, party spokesperson Saket Gokhale said on Friday.  He said it is “a matter of shame” that the NHRC hasn’t taken suo motu cognisance of the matter. 

“It is a matter of shame to see that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) hasn’t suo motu taken up the matter of Gujarat Police publicly flogging Muslim youth. But they shouldn’t have the excuse of “no one complained”. We All India Trinamool Congress filed a complaint with the NHRC today,” Gokhale said in a tweet. 

 He also shared a copy of the complaint. 

 In the complaint filed by Gokhale on behalf of his party, he said there have been several viral videos on social media showing a group of Muslim men being “tied” to a pole in Undhela village of Matar Taluka in Kheda district, Gujarat. 

 “The police claimed that this was “punishment” to the Muslim men who were accused of stone pelting. The police basically decided to act as jury and executioner and unleashed inhuman brutality on a group of young men purely because they were Muslim,” Gokhale said.

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