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Calm returns to Gujarat, HC orders custody death inquiry

india Updated: Aug 29, 2015 01:02 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Patel quota row

CRPF troopers march in market areas as life returns to normalcy in in Ahmedabad. (PTI Photo)

The Gujarat high court ordered a CID inquiry into the death of a 32-year-old man in police custody during the violent Patel stir in the state, where calm returned as the government lifted a curfew clamped in some areas of Ahmedabad on Friday.

The court order came following a second autopsy report that said Swetang Patel, who was allegedly assaulted in custody by police, died of brain haemorrhage from severe head wounds.

The judge observed that prima facie it appeared to be a case of homicide. “Now the question is who committed it?” he said, directing police to register an FIR.

More than 10 people, including Swetang, died in the violence since August 25. The army continued to guard some sensitive areas amid fears of another flare-up as 22-year-old activist Hardik Patel, who is spearheading the stir, has warned of more demonstrations if the government fails to grant his community other backward class (OBC) status.

The court ordered a second autopsy on Thursday following a plea by Prabhaben Patel, mother of Swetang, who alleged that said her son died after he was severely assaulted by police.

She said Swetang was at home at 10:30pm on August 25 when some police officers entered their housing society, broke windscreens of parked cars and forcibly took away her son.

“At Bapunagar police station he was mercilessly beaten. The boy complained of excruciating pain but his pleas for mercy was ignored. Ultimately, he succumbed to his injuries,” the petition said.

Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, on Friday said he would meet Jat leaders who were demanding similar reservation for their community. “If needed, we will go to Jantar Mantar.”

The statement came at a time the state crawled back to normality. “Business establishments opened in the city but schools and colleges in six areas, where a curfew is still on, remained closed,” an official said in Ahmedabad.

Diamond and textile industries in Surat opened after being shut for two days, while tension eased in Rajkot, Banaskantha and Mehsana, the official said.

(With agency inputs)