Workers from Northeast attacked in Seshadripuram, police delay action

I am very tired and exhausted after 5 hours of running around, waiting in front of Seshadripuram Police Station and interacting with the police. I am writing this at midnight.

The whole ordeal started on 24th October when Tejaswini, a volunteer handing the 24×7 NorthEast telephone helpline number 9482396178  on behalf of Peace and Solidarity Forum, received a phone call at around 9:30 PM from a person of Tripura origin living in Seshadripuram area. He said that Northeast Indians residing in his building were facing constant physical assaults, extortion and threats for the past two months. My fellow activists from Praja Rajakiya Vedike – Tejaswini, Bharati, Hanumath, Harish, Prakashraj and myself rushed from our homes across Bangalore and reached Seshadripuram around 10:15 PM.

We met eight of them from Assam and Tripura, living in the same building in two small rooms with little ventilation. They work as security guards or sales persons in malls and other retail establishments nearby. They didn’t leave Bangalore during the widespread exodus in August 2012. These workers try to save as much as possible from their meagre salaries to send to their families back home in the North East.

Assault and extortion

Their ordeal began after Ramzan in end-August. According to the workers, four goondas named Karan, Santosh, Manjunath and Ramesh, living in the same locality started dropping in late evenings, mostly in groups of 2-3 and harass, abuse, threaten – using dangerous weapons and extort money from people of Northeast origin living there. Many of them have been physically assaulted too.

On the afternoon of 6th October (the day of the Karnataka Bundh on Cauvery issue), two of them physically assaulted a worker and asked him to collect Rs 500 from each of the workers. They threatened to kill all the workers otherwise.

This seems to have led to most of the 100 Northeast workers living in the building moving out of the building in the past 20 days. Some have shifted to other areas and others have left the city. On 23rd October, two of the workers were physically attacked on the night 23rd October and had to pay Rs 2000 to the goondas.

Police inaction

On 24th October 2012, the workers went to the Seshdripuram Police Station and complained about their ordeal. The police didn’t take any action. On the same day at 7:30 pm, the goondas barged into a room, hit a worker and snatched his N-70 NOKIA mobile phone away. The workers then managed to get hold of the helpline.

The workers say they are fed-up of giving their hard earned money to these goondas and having no money to celebrate the festival (most of them are Hindu and others are Muslim).

Around 10:45pm, we went to the Seshadripuram Police Station along with the victims: Rinku, Kul Bahadur, Akmal, Nurul, Saddam, Farman, Arob and others. The police were not willing to register the complaint or take action.

The assistant police sub-inspector on duty asked us to come on Thursday (25th Oct) morning, as the Police Inspector will be at the station then. After waiting outside the station for more than two hours, we informed the media.

Media presence forces action

Media personnel from many Kannada-news channels and a couple of newspapers reached the station. Looking at the media presence, the police tried to persuade us to lodge a police complaint before talking to the media. Within a half hour, the Inspector too arrived. We were under a lot of police pressure to give the written complaint quickly resulting in us not able to lodge the complaint with full details. Police then detained three of the four accused in the Police Station within the next 30 minutes.

The police personnel promised security for the Northeast workers for that night. They took the written complaint of the workers and promised to give the FIR copy next morning.

Meanwhile, the police Jeep driver threatened two of our activists and said there will be no safety for the Northeast workers, if we lodge a complaint against the goondas.

Finally FIR lodged

On 26th October, the Seshadripuram police formally registered a case against Karan, Santosh, Ramesh and Manju under IPC sections 328 (Voluntarily causing hurt, bailable), 384 (Extortion, non-bailable), 506 (Criminal intimidation, bailable) read with 34 (done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) in the name of Farman (one of the complainants). We have the copy of the FIR.

Our volunteers, Rini Ralte, Tejaswini, Bharati (from Peace and Solidarity Forum), two of the victims and myself met DCP Victor D’Souza (Northeast nodal officer for Karnataka Police) yesterday evening and explained the facts.

Police trying to weaken the case?

Police from Seshadripuram Police Station have called Farman more than 20 times in a day, to pressurise him to collect the mobile phone seized from the accused. Normally after an FIR is filed all items seized from the accused are produced before the Court. But Seshadripuram police’s action seems against the regular procedures. It looks like they have joined hands with the accused to weaken the case and raises serious doubts about their ability to conduct an  impartial investigation.

Peace and Solidarity Forum has lodged a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore City to take action against the jeep driver and other police personnel for not doing their duty and for joining hands with the goondas. We have also requested him to handover the investigation to a senior office in COD as we have no trust in Seshdripuram Police.

We request groups and individuals willing to support our fellow NorthEast Indians to contact the Peace and Solidarity Forum (Ph: 9482396178 and 9845967545, Email: nehelplineblore@gmail.com, Web:http://northeastsolidarity.blogspot.in

About Manohar Elavarthi 2 Articles
Manohar Elavarthi is an activist and member of Praja Rajakiya Vedike. Details of this incident was first shared on Manohar's blog: http://manoharban.wordpress.com