Yunus Sheikh, the Assistant Sub-Inspector, who has served Maharashtra Police for 38 years, was assaulted, forced to carry a “saffron flag” and paraded through a town in Maharashtra’s Latur by members of a fringe right-wing group. They forced him to chant ‘Jai Bhawani, Jai Shivaji’.
He has said that he was let down by his own colleagues who failed to save him. The 50-year-old’s family has demanded a departmental probe into why reinforcements from Renapur police station failed to arrive in time to tackle the mob at Pangaon, around 15 km away, on Saturday. Sheikh, who is posted at the Renapur station, was on duty at Pangaon chowky.
On Monday, speaking to The Indian Express from his bed at the Latur Civil Hospital, Sheikh said, “I phoned the control room and appraised them about the situation. Using my mobile, I called the in-charge of the Renapur station on his cellphone. But still, they failed to send reinforcements in time. The policemen reached Pangaon by 10.10 am. By then, the mob had assaulted me brutally and humiliated me by parading me.”
Sheikh said the attack began at 8.30 am on February 20, when over 100 youth assembled outside the police chowky, after he and Awaskar had stopped a group of 25 from hoisting the saffron flag the previous night. Police said the group belonged to the little-known Shivaji Jayanti Mandal. “I begged them to let me go but I was mercilessly beaten until I collapsed. The mob took me to the same spot where I had stopped them from hoisting the flag. They made me hoist the same flag there and forced me to chant ‘Jai Bhawani, Jai Shivaji’,” said Sheikh. “I was just doing my duty. Ambedkar Chowk is marked as a communally sensitive area. We even assured the group the previous night that we would find a better place for them to hoist the flag,” said Sheikh.
Sheikh’s 28-year-old son, Farooq Yunus Sheikh, alleged that his father was “singled out” by the mob. “The other constable who had also restrained the crowd from hoisting the flag the previous night was not paraded or attacked the way my father was. They spared him but not my father. What are we to make out of this?” asked Farooq, who works for an IT firm in Pune. “If reinforcements had be sent on time, my father would not have been attacked. In every case, a departmental enquiry is ordered, we hope that this case is no different,” he said.
Sheikh's sad saga reminds me of Ehsan Jafri, the Muslim MP, who was lynched to death by Hindutvadis in Chamanpura in the state of Gujarat nearly 14 years ago. Mr. Jafri phone called a few times Mr. Modi, then Governor of Gujarat, to come to his aid against the Hindu mob. But Mr. Modi refused to send anyone to protect him.
Gory details of how former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was hacked limb by limb at Gulbarg Society, then burnt, have been reported in Indian media exposes, in the words of those who did it."
Chamanpura is in central Ahmedabad and barely a kilometre from the police station, and less than 2 km from the Police Commissioner's office. Believing the area to be safe given Jafri's presence, many Muslims in the area had gathered in his compound. Around 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2002, the Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police, P.C. Pandey, personally visited Jafri and apparently assured him that police reinforcement would be coming. In the next five hours, Jafri and top Congress officials of the state repeatedly kept calling the police and other government officials requesting safe transport for the residents, but no help arrived. The FIR by Erda further stated that the police station had 130 policemen on duty that day, and were well armed with teargas shells. However, no one was deployed to disperse the crowd, despite Ehsan Jafri and top Congress politicians repeatedly contacting the Director General of Police, Police Commissioner, the Mayor, Leader of Opposition in the State parliament, and other top government officials.So, here again, the Muslim police ASI was left to the mercy of the criminal Hindu gang with no rescue or security team coming to protect him. He was simply abandoned for being a Muslim police ASI in Hindu India.
What is India coming to?