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Madhya Pradesh based lawyer Deepak Bundele has claimed that local police beat him up when he went to the Betul district hospital for treatment during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Bundele claims that the police assaulted him after mistaking him for a Muslim.
A senior police officer in Madhya Pradesh has confirmed to Bar & Bench that the concerned police official has now been placed under suspension.
Bundele claimed that on March 23, owing to his diabetic condition, he visited the district hospital for treatment. Since the area was under prohibitory orders in the face of the nationwide lockdown, the police started beating Bundele and only stopped when he informed them that he was a lawyer.
In his complaint, Bundele has stated that under the Right to Information Act, he had asked the police for the video recording of the area where he was beaten up.
However, the Public Information Officer - Additional Superintendent of Police Shraddha Joshi - rejected the query as Bundele did not state the purpose of seeking the footage under Section 8 of the Act, which exempts disclosure of information under certain circumstances.
The query is now pending before the Superintendent of Police (SP), the first appellate authority.
The entire case took a turn when on May 17, pursuant to the complaint made by Bundele, two officers visited him for his statement.
Bundele recorded the entire conversation where the now suspended policeman was heard apologising to Bundele and requesting him not to pursue the matter, as he confused him for being a Muslim owing to his "long beard."
"Whenever there are Hindu-Muslim riots, one always sides with the Hindus, even Muslims know about it. But this happened, it was a mistake," the suspended police officer was heard saying.
When Bundele enquired if he was beaten up for being a Muslim, the cop said, “Yes, and see your beard is long too".
"The thing is they mistook you as belonging to a different community, that’s why the incident happened. it’s absolutely nothing else," the officer can be heard saying in the recording.
After this, Bundele wrote another complaint to the Inspector General of Police, Hoshangabad and even the Chief Minister about these remarks.
However, even though the officer has been suspended now, no FIR has been registered against the March 23 assault on Bundele by the police officers.