Three Karnataka policemen have been caught on camera allegedly brutally assaulting bar workers in Belgaum for refusing to serve alcohol on March 13, declared a dry day by the state to prevent unruly behaviour on Holi.
The video, purportedly captured on the bar’s CCTV camera, was leaked to the media on Monday after the police department’s refusal to suspend three cops -- sub inspector Shivshankar Mukari and constables Pujeri and H D Bojjanavar.
According to the bar’s owner Shivraj, the place was shut on Holi when the three policemen entered through a window and demanded cartons of expensive imported liquor as bribe. When the staff refused, the policemen allegedly thrashed them. One of the bar workers, Ajit Halingale, fainted because of the beating. “When he came to his senses, he was beaten again and dragged to the police station where a case was registered against him,” Shivraj told HT. He said the policemen took not only cartons of alcohol before they left but also looted cash from the register.
Reacting to the allegations, Belgaum superintendent of police Ravikanthe Gowda said the case was more complicated than what the CCTV footage apparently showed.
He said the accused policemen were conducting a legitimate raid after discovering that the bar was running despite the ban order. He also said the alcohol cartons taken away by his men were not bribes but material evidence that had been seized as part of the investigation.
The police brass has closed ranks but bar owners in the district are threatening to launch a stir with the help of the opposition BJP if the three men are not suspended.