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HomeHacking & Cyber-CrimeAssaults by communal moral police network seen in Bhavnaga…

Assaults by communal moral police network seen in Bhavnaga…


The Vadodara City Police on Thursday arrested five more persons in connection with the case of alleged communal moral policing by members of a self-styled group targetting people from other faiths seen with women from the minority community. With this, eight persons have so far been arrested in the case. A Vadodara court remanded the five to five-day in police custody.

Police Commissioner Anupamsingh Gahlaut has handed over the probe to the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) of Vadodara to ensure coordination with counterparts in other districts, where the group has allegedly been involved in assaulting people. So far, 73 people have been questioned in the matter.

In a statement, the police named the five accused as Aquib Ali Mehboob Saiyyed, Mohsin Pathan, Noman Abdul Rashid, Abrar Khan Sindhi and Moin Ibrahim Shaikh – all residents of Vadodara city. The arrests come after three others, Mustaqim Imtiyaz Shaikh, Burhanbaba Nanumiya Saiyyed and Sahil Shaikh, were held on August 28.

Gahlaut said that while Mustaqim, Burhanbaba and Sahil were the “masterminds” of the alleged moral policing on communal lines in Vadodara – which has seen around 50 victims so far – the network was spread across Gujarat. The accused allegedly have links with members of similar groups involved in two recent incidents of assault in Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad, he added.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Gahlaut said, “Around 500 people have joined a WhatsApp group to be part of the communal moral policing… If a woman from the minority community was found in company of a person from another religion, they would keep a watch on them.”

“They would click photographs of the vehicles and use the RTO application of Google Play to identify vehicle owners… pass on information to the next person on the route, who would accost them and assault the person from another religion. Most of their conversations are in audio recordings, urging the other person to arrest the ‘culprit’.”

Gahlaut said that the accused “took into confidence” street food vendors, who see a huge footfall. “Most of the accused and the members of the group are in their 20s. Many are unemployed but some are in the business of street food. They also had a network, especially with those selling items like falooda and ice-cream… These street vendors, belonging to their community, helped spot women from their community in the company of men from another religion,” said Gahlaut.

Maintaining that the police have sent cellphones of the eight accused to the forensic science laboratory and sought the call detail records of several members of the WhatsApp group from the service providers, Gahlaut said: “This appears to be organised crime. We have been in touch with the police from other districts, as some members of the group belong to other districts… Their main motive was to become heroes, trying to ‘save’ women from getting involved in relationships outside their community… But, we have also come across a case where a victim tried to attempt suicide, as the group used the videos of the assault for blackmail and extortion.”

“During questioning of the accused, serious issues came to light, especially after we tracked down the three masterminds seen in the August 25 video that originally went viral in Ahmedabad but was from Vadodara city… We found that the accused created and deleted WhatsApp groups to evade law. The first group they created was called ‘Hussani Army’ with 500 people, which first released a viral video. Later, they changed to ‘Army of Mahdi’, creating a new WhatsApp group. When the last video became viral and the police got on to the case, they deleted the group and created another group called ‘Lashkar-e-Adam’. There were 254 members in the group…”

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“They would make videos viral and attempt to create communal discord. The videos of assault were shared on groups of other districts too with provocative captions… They also have channels on YouTube and X that the cyber crime cell will probe,” he added.

“We are trying to convince victims to come forward and complain but they fear social stigma… Couples usually choose spots where there are no CCTV cameras and this group took advantage this… We have also got in touch with the Ahmedabad Police to see if there is a victim, who is ready file a complaint,” Gahlaut said.

The DCB will also investigate the group’s source of funding. Gahlaut said, “We are investigating if they are being funded from outside… We are also probing who the actual mastermind is, who has roped in these youngsters from across the state to carry out moral policing to ensure that girls and women from their community do not befriend persons from other religions…”

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