HYDERABAD: Clad in plain clothes, a police constable carrying a handycam, stood in a corner of street leading to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad office at Koti. He was given task of taking the video footage of all VHP leaders and workers visiting the office, as the VHP had planned to take out a "protest march" from Koti till Basheerbagh.
Though there was tension in the air following Sunday’s communal clashes, the policeman did what none would expect. He was checking every passer-by for the lockets they wore around their necks to determine their religion.
When youngsters told him that they were students and had come there to purchase secondhand books, which is a huge business in Koti, the sleuth was in no mood to listen. ‘Convinced’ that they were members of a particular community going by the lockets they wore, he caught hold of them, bundled them into police vans and drove them away.
The reason for his behaviour is to thwart members of a particular community to gather at the VHP office for the proposed rally and in the process many youth, who had nothing to do with the VHP, became victims. Express was an eye-witness to the high-handed behaviour.
It was around noon, when the overzealous cop, clad in a green T-shirt and jeans, began his ‘operation’ near the VHP office. Initially, he zoomed his camera all across the office and then started catching youngsters. ‘’Why have you come here?’’ he asked two youngsters who were passing by. They told him that they were on the way to buy secondhand books from the market ahead. The policeman then placed his hand on the collar of one of them, saw him wearing a locket with a picture of a god. The next moment, he signalled his colleague and the youngsters were put in a police van and driven away.
Similar was the fate of several youngsters whose religion was decided based on the lockets they wore or by the bands on their wrists. Though it is quite normal for many people to take the route along the VHP office for various reasons, the manner in which innocents were harassed shocked many. ‘’This is just too much. How can they decide that we have come here to participate in the rally? We do not even know what it was all about, leave alone the so called rally,’’ fumed a youngster sitting at a nearby shop, who was witnessing the police operation.
When Express confronted him, the cop, who refused to reveal his name, said he was only implementing orders of his superiors. ‘’My superiors told me to use such tactics,’’ he said. When Express contacted Sultan Bazar inspector B Anand, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, he said: ‘’The constable is new to the department. It is a small thing, forget it.’’
The police arrested a number of passers-by who visited Koti on Monday morning following VHP’s protest march against communal riots in Madannapet and Saidabad.