HUBBALLI: Eight policemen were suspended for brutally caning of villagers, including women and children, in Navalgund last week. The policemen, attached to Navalgund and Vijayapura district reserve police, had rained lathis in retaliation to an attack on a police jeep in Yamanur village during the Mahadayi protest.
Dharwad SP Dharmendra Kumar Meena said eight constables were seen caning the farmers in a video captured on the premises of Navalgund police station. “The constables have been identified and suspended on Tuesday morning,” he said.
Of the eight suspended cops, two are attached to Navalgund police station, four to Belagavi and two others to Vijaypura District Reserve police. Police have refrained from revealing the identities of suspended policemen fearing retaliatory attacks from farmers and agitators. SP Meena said, “We cannot reveal the identity but we have examined the footage thoroughly and found no other police staff involved.”
Two days ago, the home department had suspended an inspector and a police sub inspector while a deputy superintendent of police rank officer was transferred.
The agitators are now demanding the suspension of higher officials who ordered the lathi charge. “Suspending constables will not help. They (constables) were just discharging their duties. One must find out who ordered caning of farmers when the Navalgund town was shut without any protests,” said an agitating farmer from Navalgund.
Last Thursday, a day after the Mahadayi river tribunal’s decision rejecting 7.56 tmcft of water to Karnataka, farmers in Navalgund burnt down government offices and vehicles. The police had detained 120 people from Navalgund. All the detainees are now in Ballari jail. There has been a statewide demand that the farmers be released.
Police are also looking at the possibility of criminal elements, who in the guise of protesters burnt down government properties in Navalgund. ADGP Bhaskar Rao said the police team is studying the video footage acquired from different news channels and videographers. “Based on the footage we are ascertaining the identities of people who vandalised properties. It appears some of them are not farmers.”