Millennium Post

Alabama Guv apologises for assault against Indian

Alabama Guv apologises for assault against Indian
The Governor of the American state of Alabama has apologised for the brutal police assault on a 57-year-old Indian and ordered a fresh probe after India conveyed its strong concern over the incident to him.

The apology by Governor Robert Bentley came after India’s Consul General in Atlanta Ajit Kumar met him and conveyed deep concern of the people and Government of India over the “illegal and excessive use of force” against Sureshbhai Patel that left him partially paralysed. “Please accept our sincere apology for this tragic incident to your government, Patel, and the citizens of India who reside and work in our state,” Bentley said in a letter to Kumar after the meeting.

Bentley also ordered the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to start a parallel investigation apart from the probe being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the February 6 incident in Alabama.

A day before, Patel had arrived in the US to assist his son and daughter-in-law in caring for their 17-month-old child, who was developmentally delayed after a premature birth.

In the letter, Bentley “respectfully acknowledged” the “deep concern” expressed by “the Government of India and citizens of India who live in Alabama”.

“I deeply regret the unfortunate use of excessive force by the Madison Police Department on Sureshbhai Patel and for the injuries sustained by Patel. I sincerely hope that Patel continues to improve and that he will regain the full use of his legs,” the Alabama governor said in the letter.

Official sources said Governor Bentley assured the Consul General that “he will see that justice is done arising from the use of excessive force under the colour of state law upon a citizen of India”.

They said Indian consular officials in the US will continue to pursue the matter in close coordination with relevant US authorities to ensure that all concerns and needs of the family are addressed on a speedy and urgent basis. Kumar had visited Patel in the Huntsville Hospital and enquired about his health on February 14. He had also handed over a cheque of USD 8,000 to the family of Patel.

Meanwhile, Patel has been transferred from Huntsville hospital to a rehabilitation centre following improvement in his condition, his attorney Henry F Sherrod told PTI over phone. He said Patel was still unable to walk.

Sherrod, who has sued the Madison City and two police officers on behalf of Patel for the “unprovoked assault”, said it was not a racial attack.  “This case is about police abuse of power and police accountability,” he said. Responding to questions, Sherrod said the case of Patel is strong and on right track.

An online fund raising campaign has collected $187,000 for Patel’s medical expenses. More than 4,300 people have contributed to it.


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