Human Rights

Mumbai police “encountered”

Not long ago Pradeep Sharma, Mumbai police’s encounter specialist, was let off by the Court in the fake encounter case of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya. But this could not give him life-long freedom to kill criminals and terrorists. Sharma was dismissed from service on 8 August 2008 under Article 311 of the Constitution. The order was signed by the then police commissioner Hassan Gafoor who mentioned his “unsatisfactory prior record.” Now on 14 January 2010, on the directions of a local Court, Pradeep Sharma was remanded to judicial custody till January 27 in a fake encounter case. All the accused including Pradeep Suryavanshi, senior inspector of MICD police station, three policemen and three informers are accused in the case and were presented in the Court of A R Sheikh.

Reports said that report was not filed by the police ascertaining the authenticity of the encounter. A police officer in this connection on the condition of anonymity was quoted as saying: “Before the investigation could be completed, the brother of the deceased took the matter to the High Court and therefore the enquiry report could never be submitted.”

(L-R) Daya Nayak, Bipin Bihari, R D Tyagi, R S Sharma

Sharma’s counsel, Shrikant Shivdey, said in the Court that police officers should not be remanded to judicial custody which puts their lives in danger and they should be remanded to police custody instead. However, the Court said in its order that they must be sent to jail. He also said that the case was taken to the Court on 15 November 2006, four days after the encounter.

Pradeep and other policemen had been arrested on 27 January 2006 following the encounter of Chota Rajan’s alleged group member Ram Narayan Gupta. Brother of Ram Naryan accused the police of fake encounter and filed a writ petition in the High Court.

Sharma is also accused of Khawja Younus’s disappearance from custody. In this connection, Sachin Vaz and Rond Angray were suspended shortly after Khawja’s disappearance. Later, Vaz had left his job whereas Angray is still in jail for an assets case.

With the arrest of Sharma, an era of encounter specialists has come to an end. Other officers who earned both name and fame in the business of ‘encounters’ including Daya Nayak, Praful Bhonsle and Vijay Salaskar have already been sidelined.

Available reports revealed that in Lakhan’s case the responsibility of submitting the report was with the Versova police station. The investigation later was transferred to the Oshiwara police because the officer conducting the investigation was transferred. The Oshiwara police recorded the statements of the police officers involved in the encounter.

On the other hand, five Mumbai police officers who were caught on camera dancing at a party hosted on behalf of the underworld don Chotta Rajan at Chembur Gymkhana on Christmas eve, have again brought  bad name to the Mumbai police .Rajan’s wife, Sujata Nikalje, and his aides Farid  Tanasha, Sunil Podar and D.K. Rao also attended the party. Mumbai police commissioner, D. Sivananandan has recommended suspension of all five officers including DCP (Special Branch 1) V.N.Salve, ACP (crime branch) senior police inspector (Chembur) Ramesh Khakale, assistant police inspector (Anti-extortion cell) N. Kolhatkar and constable Rajendra Ghorpade

While commenting on the indulgence into the nexus with underworld, a former Mumbai police commissioner and DGP Punjab, said, “What they say in their defense is all excuses. One doesn’t go for an undercover operation in a police car with an emblem and red light. The officers went there because they take money from the underworld, the politicians get both money and muscle power.”

Maharashtra Chief Minister Chavan said that “officers like (Pradeep) Sharma were a blot on the entire police force.” Chavan added that the government would take necessary steps to ensure that the police force is not demoralized by such officers.

A case had surfaced in Julio’s stint in 1984-85, when police officials were photographed dancing with members of the underworld but it was seen as an attempt to discredit Julio’s full-throttle campaign to isolate and eliminate the underworld

The cozy relations between Mumbai police and underworld have been developing since 70’s. Following is the list of dismissed/suspended cops of Mumbai police for their underworld nexus and role in fake encounters:

Daya Nayak: Suspended from service in 2006 for possessing assets worth Rs 41 lakh, disproportionate to his income, and collecting over 1 crore from Bollywood for a school in his home town near Banglore.
Bipin Bihari: Then Additional Commissioner suspended and arrested on 7 March 2007 in Rajan-Chaturvedi frame-up case of 2007, spent 41 days behind bars. The case was that he had given supari to kill rival Rashmikant Shah of Vijay Builders.
Pradeep Sharma: Encounter specialist was dismissed from the force in August 2008.
R S Sharma: Former city police commissioner was nabbed in connection with the infamous multi- billion rupees Telgi fake stamp- papers scam and discharged from the case in 2007.
Commissioner R D Tyagi was slapped with murder charges in the Suliman Bakery firing case, and is currently on bail as the matter is in the Court.
S S Wagal former police Joint Commissioner of Crime was also nabbed in connection with the Telgi scam and is still undergoing trail.
Pradeep Sawant Former Deputy Commissioner of Police, who was also nabbed in connection with Telgi scam, got a discharge and is now back in service as Anti-Terrorist Squad DCP.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 February 2010 on page no. 11

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