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Allahabad HC orders inquiry by CJM into police ‘assault’ on lawyer

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday ordered the Chief Justice of Etah District to conduct an investigation into allegations that police attacked a district lawyer and molested and humiliated his relatives on December 21.

A bank division of Supreme Judge Govind Mathur and Judge Saumitra Dayal Singh instructed the CJM to collect relevant facts, including audiovisual evidence, and electronic documents, and to submit a report by the next hearing on January 8th. The court said the Chief Justice’s Secretariat also received a letter from the High Court Bar Association on the matter. Some other proponents have also sent emails to the court in protest.

In its letter, the Bar Council identified the lawyer who was allegedly mistreated as Rajendra Sharma.

“After considering the facts set out in the above letters, we believe it is appropriate to have a full report of the incident from the Chief Justice, Etah,” the judges stated.

The court ordered the district judge and chief police officer to cooperate in the investigation and to provide all relevant facts and documents.

Police said Rajendra Sharma, a government attorney, was involved in a dispute with another attorney named Avinash Sharma over a house in Katra in the Kotwali Police Station area.

Rajendra Sharma has lived in part of the rented house for three decades. He claims he bought the house in 2013. However, according to police, Avinash Sharma claims to have bought the part of the house where another tenant, Rekha Sharma, lives.

District official Raj Kumar Singh said that Rekha Sharma went to Agra to work on December 21st and asked a Gaya Prasad Jatav to take care of the house in her absence. Rajendra Sharma reportedly arrived there that evening and attacked Prasad. The government attorney also reportedly made casteistic remarks about Prasad and threw away Rekha Sharma’s belongings.

When the woman returned, Rajendra Sharma and his family reportedly did not allow her to enter the house. Rekha Sharma then went to the Kotwali City Police Station and had an FIR lodged on the matter.

When a team of county officials and police visited the site to investigate, Rajendra and others allegedly opened fire and threw stones at the officers from the terrace of the house. According to the police, a stray ball hit 22-year-old Arbaz in his stomach. He was taken to a hospital, which referred him to a medical facility in Agra. Police said doctors told them Arbaz was now stable.

When Rajendra and the others did not stop pelting them despite warnings, police climbed from the back of the building onto the terrace. The police claimed they used “necessary force” to control the situation and even had to break open a door.

They arrested Rajendra Sharma and six of his family members and booked them on various charges, including attempted murder. The police also confiscated the lawyer’s licensed weapon. According to official reports, three women named as defendants are out on bail.

A government official said an investigation ordered after videos and photos depicting suspected police atrocities went viral was still ongoing.

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