Dhule victims go to SC, seek probe by SIT

The riot-affected citizens of Dhule in Maharashtra have moved the Supreme Court seeking a special investigation team (SIT) to probe police excesses during the January 6 violence in which six Muslim men were killed.

The Indian Express on January 26 published images from video that showed uniformed policemen breaking and looting vendors' stalls, and pounding water drums and parked vehicles. Following the publication of the report and pictures, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had acknowledged the presence of "communal elements" in the police.

Mohammad G Naseer, father of Asim Ahmad, who was one of the six Muslim youths shot dead by police, filed the petition along with socio-cultural organisation Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD). "The police are refusing to take the complaints of the minority community, and the state, in spite of announcing a judicial inquiry, is yet to appoint a judge for it. We feel that going to court is the only way left now," Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD said.

The petitioners have submitted that police participated in the destruction of property and firing on Muslim youths. "The PIL is seeking a direction from this court for the establishment of an SIT to investigate this incident... and prosecute the criminal offenders including police personnel and government officials...," the petition said.

Residents of Dhule on Monday complained that they had not received compensation for injury or loss of life. "We have still not received any compensation from the state government. We went to the collector's office but were told that compensation would be awarded only after the inquiry is over," said a riot victim whose home was burnt down.

"It is now over three weeks since the riot. The seriousness of the CM in ensuring these events do not occur again can be gauged from the fact that he is yet to announce the name of the judge who will conduct the inquiry," said another victim.

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