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Police probing alleged assault by cops of autistic teenager in Dharga town

ALLEGED ASSAULT – CCTV footage shows Policemen assaulting teenager

ECONOMYNEXT-The Police are investigating the alleged assault of an autistic 14-year old boy at Dharga Town, Aluthgama, by Policemen on duty during the curfew last month, Police Spokesman Jaliya Senaratne told EconomyNext today June 4.

The CCTV footage of the incident where the 14-year-old autistic boy Thariq Ahamed is seen being attacked by police last month was posted by former MP Ali Zahir Moulana today in his official Twitter account.

Senaratne said that statements have been taken from the father of the child and Police had taken the CCTV footages of the incident.

“Currently, the police are waiting for the medical reports of the child after being presented for a medical examination,” he said.

According to Former MP Ali Zahir’s Tweet, Thariq was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 4 and today, he has the mental capacity of a 6-year-old child.

On 25 May, while curfew was imposed, Thariq had wandered out of his house on his bicycle and had ventured by the Ambagaha Junction in Dharga Town where there was a police checkpoint manned by 6-7 policemen.

CCTV footage shows that he was accosted by a policeman in civvies and pushed violently off his bicycle as he was pulled to his feet, another 5 policemen walked up and started brutally assaulting him, including slapping him across the face and blows to his head and torso. He was then dragged across the road towards the checkpoint and a nearby petrol station where two more persons in civilian clothing who stopped by in a three-wheeler also joined the police in assaulting him.

The former MP tweeted that Thariq, being autistic, was not able to effectively communicate who he was and what he was doing. Ali Zahir Moulana in his tweet states that according to Thariq’s father, he was visibly terrified and disoriented and when the father had arrived, the police had released the Thariq after the father had explained his son’s medical condition.

The officers there then verbally abused the father and upon realizing that this child was in fact mentally ill, and allowed the father to take his son away after forcing the father to agree that the fault was his in letting his son out of the house.

The former MP told EconomyNext that the father was “humiliated by the Police as well as the Medical Officer who had said that the boy should be taken to the Angoda Mental institution.”

Thariq suffered a cut on his head and several on his back and arms, along with several bruises all over his body, meanwhile was terrified and was fearful to let anyone come near him immediately after the attack, and remains that way to this day.

When the father had approached the local police station to file a complaint he was told there that the mistake was his in letting his son leave the house and no further action was taken.

On Twitter #JusticeForThariq was the number one trending hashtag today after the CCTV footage went viral.

Mixed in with support for the Black Lives Matter on social media Thariq’s plight was being compared to the violent discrimination by police in the US against people of colour.

Rehan Jayewickreme Chairman of the Weligama Urban Council also Tweeted that others have to become Thariq’s voice. (Colombo, 4 June 4, 2020)