September  2000
Special Report

 Policemen off the hook

Ten policemen have been exonerated with a bureaucrat’s  committee overruling the findings of Justice Srikrishna

Rajendra Bhoi — expired.

RD Tyagi, Joint Commissioner of Police, (later police commissioner, Mumbai)

Commission’s findings: "After carefully examining the evidence on record, the Commission is of the view that the story of the police does not inspire credence…The Commission feels that the police were very much influenced by the floating exaggerated rumours of attacks from sophisticated firearms... The result — deaths of nine innocent persons in the Suleman Bakery and adjoining premises. The evidence on record in no way bears out the police story that they were terrorists, much less with deadly arms; nor does the evidence suggest that it was necessary for the police to carry out such an extensive firing as they did. This is one incident where the police appeared to be utterly trigger–happy and used force utterly disproportionate to meet the apprehensions of private firing assuming there was one. The responsibility for this incident must squarely fall on Joint CP, RD Tyagi who was overall in charge of the operation and API Deshmukh and PI Lahane who were leading the SOS team."

Committee: "No action was proposed against RD Tyagi, then Jt Commissioner of Police, Mumbai for the reason that he had since retired on October 30, 1997 and service rules say if the event in question has taken place more than four years before action is precluded." Further, the committee exonerates Tyagi while indicting two junior officers under him for the same incident: "The Committee did not find that it was feasible to launch a prosecution against him, as the act was done in the discharge of his duty". Departmental enquiry has, however, been ordered against Lahane and Deshmukh who were members of the Special Operation Squad (SOS) headed by Tyagi!

Dattaray Dhawale, Police Inspector, Nagpada police station

Commission’s findings: "Police Inspector Dhavale overreacted by firing at a mob of 10–12 miscreants…resulting in injury to a two year old child… The Commission would have been inclined to pass off Dhawale’s case as an unfortunate incident, but a closer examination of the case papers in this case discloses peculiar features." It is clear that the reason why the Judge recommended penal action against this policeman was because he has tried to tamper with the evidence and show that the mob was 100–120 strong rather than of just 10–12 persons.

Committee: "The firing was not unjustified and the injury caused to a 2–year–old child was accidental."

Subhash Salvi, inspector and Vishnu More, sub–inspector, MRA Police station

Commission’s findings: "In the view of the Commission, Police Inspector Salvi, Police Sub–Inspector More and PC 24242 Vidyanath Raghunath Shelar are squarely responsible for virtually handing over Babu Abdul Sheikh to the mob resulting in his being virtually hacked to death."

Committee: "They had done their duty by handing over the injured person to the constable, Vidyadhar Shelar while in whose custody the injured person was attacked. A departmental inquiry has been initiated against Vidyadhar Shelar, police constable."

Sanjay Laxman Gawade, Mahim police station

Committee: "The offence was registered against Sanjay Laxman Gawade and govt accorded sanction for his prosecution but Gawade was acquitted by the court and no action was recommended against him."

VB Shinge, Shivgaunda Patil, Bhausaheb K Gaekwad, Antop Hill police station

Commission’s findings: VB Shinge, Shiv Gaunda Patil, Bhausaheb Gaekwad "failed to protect the lives and properties of the Muslim victims". From January 3, 1993, when a group of 15–20 Shiv Sainiks moved around in Pratikshanagar identifying and marking out Muslim homes with a white chalk mark, to January 9, 1993 when the physical attack took place on Muslim homes, including the burning alive of three Muslims in a car, all incidents took place within striking distance of the Pratikshanagar police chowky.

On April 20, 1993 Vinayakrao Raosaheb Patil was dismissed from service "for developing relationships with criminal elements". The commission states that the conduct of other policemen from the Antop Hill police station, including VB Shinge, Shivgaunda Patil and Bhausaheb Gaekwad was not above aboard and the ‘massive operation launched by Hindu miscreants in Pratikshanagar was testimony to the ineffectiveness of the police machinery."

Committee: "As regards police inspector, police sub-inspector, VB Shinge, Shivaji/Shivgaunda Patil, Bhausaheb K. Gaekwad all working at the Antop Hill station at the relevant time, the committee came to the conclusion that the charge against them that they closed offences as ‘A’ summary (refused to pursue criminal cases) and that they could have protected lives and property of Muslims was of a general nature… hence no departmental inquiry was necessary against them.

Shrirang Patade, Tardeo police station

Commission’s findings: "Shrirang Pathade, popularly known as Richard Hawaldar was openly collaborating with the Shiv Sainiks in looting and violent activities."

Committee: "There was no substance in the charges against him and hence no departmental inquiry was recommended."



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