They are a living picture of brutality
Gurgaon, July 27
“I had gone to meet a friend who works for Honda. I don’t know what happened. I found myself being dragged into a mob and beaten. If I close my eyes, I see the blows raining”, he whispers.
A little away lies Gokul Shinde. The bone in his leg fractured and stitches on his head. Further away lies Leeladhar, Maharashtra resident, with a broken arm and five stitches on the head. The names change, but the story remains the same.
“We went as a peaceful group to petition the District Commissioner. We were called to submit our petition and made to sit in a compound. We had our backs towards where the DC walked in followed by policemen. And before we could react, he ordered them to beat us up with sticks”, recalls Gokul.
His co-worker Praveen, who now sits by him on the hospital bed. adds, “If we had caused the violence as the police claims, then why were we not armed. The DC walked in all prepared. He was wearing the protection guard and a helmet whereas he knew we were there to petition not protest”.
No salaries for the past two months and now injuries, these workers who came to Gurgaon to earn their wages from all across the country want answers. “The working conditions in Honda were oppressive, we had to think twice even before going to the washroom. Despite our repeated petitions, there was an illegal lockout. And today there are so many of our colleagues who are missing and nothing is being done to track them down”, said Mahender, also from Maharashtra.
Even as the police and the hospital administration continue to deny that there are missing people, the agitated workers with a long list in hand claim otherwise. “We know our friends who are missing. We have come from far off places and are like family to each other. If these people, including the seven colleagues who were leading us, have not been admitted to any hospital or taken into custody then where are they”,question many of them.
Outside the hospital, where the city is inching towards normalcy, tension is apparent. The two days of violence has left a deep scar on the psyche of the residents for whom the brutality with which the police allegedly attacked the protesters has become the topic for all discussion.
Witnesses to the outrage are yet to reconcile to the fact that the police that was meant for their protection became their tormentors. “I shudder when I see the Police…the events of the last two days will stay with me forever as will the scars of my wounds”, sums up Rajmal.
The other side…
Ramesh, a constable with the Haryana Police, has been on duty since Monday morning. Staff in hand at the hospital gates, he has to keen eye open for “trouble makers”. He tells you that the police has been “victimised”.
“We are there for the safety and security of people. We are not paid to beat them. But then who listens to us. We had requested these people to stop the violence and even braved the stones and the sticks. Finally, when we could do no more we retaliated”, Ramesh says.
Criticism and condemnation at the “atrocity” committed by them has left the police seething. “The media has made a monster out of us. They have provoked the masses and steadfastly refused to acknowledge that the policemen too have been injured and that using force was the last resort”, said DSP M.S. Ahlawat.
With the anti-police wave reaching a crescendo, the men in uniform are struggling to come clean. “We are not brutes, we are human beings who works round-the-clock for the sake of others. I have never spent a single festival with my family, but that goes unnoticed. One day in trying to protect the city and ourselves we use the stick and we are labeled as brutes”, complains a constable posted outside the hospital where DSP Jagparvesh Dahiya is currently undergoing treatment.
The DSP’s family still reeling from under shock is grieving that his image has been tarnished. “He folded his hands and begged the mob to turn back. The lumpen element in the mob had begun damaging cars and property and they had to be stopped. If my husband was brute as he has been made out to be, he could have used his gun and not stood there taking the blows”, his wife says fighting tears.
Disappointed at the mass reaction, DSP Ahlawat says, “If you refuse to see the injuries received by our men, you will demoralise the force”.