Online Petition Demanding immediate action against the rogue policemen of Godhra B Division Police Station, who allegedly violently assaulted and sexually molested the women of Hathila plot Godhra on the 19th & 20th of Decmber 2009. On the 19th of December 2009, a police party from Godhra B Division police station launched a barbaric attack on the defenceless women in Hathila plot (Near Urdu school) in Godhra. They were reportedly pursuing an accused alleged of cow-slaughter. The police launched this attack on the women in Hathila plot under the pretext that they were sheltering the main accused. This happened at around 10.00 p.m. in the middle of the night and continued right till 1.00 a.m. (on the 20th of December, 2009). The police forcibly entered a number of houses and started beating up the innocent women. They verbally and physically assaulted the defenceless women in their houses and after terrorizing the community for over an hour, 8 women were dragged away. The women were illegally detained on false and frivolous charges and pushed into the police vehicles, in blatant violation of the guideline that women cannot be arrested and taken into custody without the presence of women constables. And this happened well past midnight. While the false and frivolous charges levelled against the women, and the wanton destruction that the police party had engaged in before taking the women away are also serious violations in themselves, this petition focuses on the inhuman battering and the sexual abuse the women were subjected to. This serious violation of human rights and the law by the police raises very serious questions regarding the impunity with which police engage in such brutal violations. Police atrocities and sexual violence Sub Inspector A.V.Parmar, constables Prabhatsinh and Suresh from Godhra Sector B led this criminal group of policemen, and the women have identified them; they would be able to identify the remaining policemen in person if and when presented before them. The police personnel who had forced themselves into the houses had engaged in extremely sexist abuses and crass acts like opening their pants and displaying their genitals. These policemen, particularly PSI Parmar and the constables named above, crossed all limits; they grabbed and applied brutal pressure on the breasts, buttocks and the private parts of the women, while verbally and physically assaulting them. As the women resisted this abuse, they were brutally beaten up with lathis and kicked dangerously in the stomach and other parts of the body. The police forced themselves into the house of a widow who was still in the iddat and misbehaved with her despite pleas of all those present there. She was also abused and manhandled, but the police stopped short of arresting her and taking her away with the other women, (perhaps fearing serious consequences). Even a young woman who was to get married the next day was beaten up badly and was injured on her toes, which was bleeding profusely. Two women who were running away to protect themselves were pursued and battered by these police personnel and later loaded into their vehicles. A young mother who was nursing her 15 day old child also was brutally beaten while still holding the baby. All the women also disclosed to the women activists who visited them that the sexual abuse and violence continued in the vehicle and in the police station after they reached there. All the while they kept shouting obnoxious expletives, threatening to rape and kill them, and that nothing would happen to the policemen whatever they do. Even after 14 days the clot and the painful injury marks are still visible all over their bodies. All the injury marks which were visible in the photographs shown by them were verified in person and in private by the women who were in this fact finding team. We have not attached photographs so that their privacy could be respected. The young children who had witnessed this violence are still in a state of shock and many of them, the women victims and their family members find it difficult to sleep at night. The Inquiry ordered by the Chief Judicial Magistrate under Section 202 of Cr.P.C. The FIR filed by the police in this case does not have the names of the women who were assaulted. The FIR describes events from the night of 19th January from around 10.00 p.m. and gives the names of a host of other accused. The women’s names appear only in the documents produced during their production before the magistrate. So while the women were detained from about 1.00 a.m. in the wee hours of 20th January and taken to the police station, they were produced before the magistrate only in the morning around 11.00 a.m. When the women were finally produced before the magistrate (who happens to be a woman), she listened to the victims, examined their injuries and ordered the police to take them right away to the civil hospital. Even this, the police delayed and only after the magistrate gave a stern written warning to the police did they take the women to the civil hospital in the evening. The police also forced the male medical staff to get the medical examination done in their presence and also refused to call in female medical staff for the examination in spite of repeated pleas by the women. The serious observations made by the magistrate enabled the Chief Judicial Magistrate to order an inquiry into this atrocity under Section 202 of Cr.PC. It is absolutely important this inquiry is done properly to ensure that action is taken against the policemen. Our demands 1. The policemen of Godhra B Division police station accused of having assaulted, battered and sexually molested the women should be immediately suspended pending inquiry. Departmental inquiry proceedings should be started forthwith against these policemen. 2. The 202 enquiry ordered by the CJM should be expedited so that criminal proceedings could be initiated against the policemen without any further delay. The prosecution of the accused should be done in a time-bound manner in a fast-track court. 3. Once the prima facie involvement of these policemen is established, under no circumstances should the government come in the way of initiating the prosecution. The PP should be appointed in consultation with the victims so that their faith in the judicial process is strengthened. 4. Compensation should be paid to the families of the victims to cover their medical expenses due to the injuries and the loss of personal belongings caused by these marauding policemen and also for the number of days of wage/income loss they suffered on account of this atrocity. The assessment and disbursement procedure should be initiated without any further delay. 5. The Gujarat Government has to come out with a statement accepting responsibility for this serious atrocity and human rights violation, apologize to the women victims and circulate clear written instructions and warnings to the police across the state so that similar atrocities do not happen in the future. We urge the NHRC to take cognizance of this serious violation of human rights and monitor the action being taken by the respective state authorities in this case so that justice is done. Sincerely, 1. Prof. J.S.Bandukwalla 2. Sheba George 3. Nafisa Barot 4. Meera Rafi 5. Rafi Malek 6. Prasad Chacko 7. Rohit Prajapati 8. Johanna Lokhande 9. 10. 11. 12.