For a few days last week, the discovery of skeletons from Noida’s house of horrors took the swagger out of its lawkeepers. To probing questions, they hid behind evasions. But when Nithari’s grief turned to rage on Monday, the swagger was back and the batons were out. And the poor paid again.
Whether it was protesting parents or bystanders guilty of merely being around, policemen cracked down on whoever came in their way. Thirteen-year-old Bishwanath Haldar and 35-year-old Rajbir Singh were two of the victims of police brutality that Nithari saw on Monday.
Haldar, who works in a tea stall at Nithari, was returning home for lunch when a policeman caught him and started beating him up. “I kept telling them that I am returning home and did not throw stones but he refused to listen,” he said. Haldar received injuries on his left hand and legs.
Haldar’s mother, Gulabi who works as a domestic help in nearby houses in sector-37, said, “We are very poor. My husband is suffering from paralysis. I can’t even afford to take my son to a doctor.”
Rajbir Singh, who works in a painting shop, was watching television in his one-room shanty when two policemen entered, dragged him out and started beating him up. Singh has received injuries on his chest and legs.
“He had to skip work today. He cannot even get up from the bed. I just want to know why was he beaten up. What did he do,” said Singh’s wife, Rekha.
If beating up innocent people was not enough, the police arrested three people who were in Nithari looking for whereabouts of their missing brother. They have been charged with rioting.
Talking to HT from Noida Sector-20 police station’s lock-up where they were kept on Monday night, one of the brothers, Roshan Lal said, “My brother, Ginnari Lal has been missing from Nithari since the last three months. I along with my two brothers had gone outside the D-5 house of Moninder Singh Pandher with his photograph to register our complaint when the police pushed us inside a van.”
His brother, Bansi Lal said, “We were bought to the Sector –20 police station and kept in the lock up.”
On Tuesday, their mother Gyanbati arrived at Nithari, pleading with policemen to release her sons.
The police have arrested four men under various sections for disturbing law and order. Senior Superintendent of Police, Noida, RKS Rathore, however, refused to accept that his men had arrested innocent people. “We have not arrested anyone unnecessarily. We have to maintain law and order.”