Tales of police brutality in the city seem to be getting more violent in each successive incident. Two friends were thrashed and verbally abused by about 25 traffic policemen and towing boys at Bhoiwada traffic police station yesterday. The victims - Parel residents Pritish Das (26), and Girish Verma (29) - had gone to the station to retrieve a vehicle that had been towed away.
The episode unfolded last afternoon. Girish went for his routine medical check up at Maru hospital in Parel, and Pritish, his close friend, accompanied him. After a few tests had been completed, the doctor at the hospital asked Girish to come back after some time. The two then went for lunch to a restaurant opposite KEM hospital. Girish parked his i20 in a lane adjacent to the hospital.
When they emerged from the hotel, they realised the car had been towed away. They sped to the Bhoiwada traffic police station to retrieve their vehicle. Girish said, “As soon as we reached the station, I noticed that my car’s bumper was badly damaged. I demanded to know how it had happened, and who would pay for the repair work.”
He added, “My friend Pritish was asking another cop about the damaged bumper, when suddenly a few of the towing boys advanced and started hitting him. When I tried to rescue him, others joined in and started assaulting both of us.” The brutal episode took place inside the premises of the Bhoiwada traffic police station. Pritish said, “Later, we were dragged inside the police chowkie. Here, we were beaten mercilessly yet again. They pushed us to the floor and assaulted us.” Girish added, “I begged for help. I asked them what I had done wrong, but they did not bother to listen or answer.”
After a while, the traffic cops decided to take them to the Bhoiwada police station. Pritish said, “While we were being taken to the police station from the traffic chowkie, they abused us about our native states. They made slurs against our caste and told me that they would send me back to Bengal and Girish to UP. They used extremely abusive language about our parents. They said that we would face the consequences if we said anything to the police.”
The ordeal continued at the police station. Girish said, “At the station too, the traffic cops threatened and abused me. They said they would falsely accuse my wife of stealing the mobile phone of a towing staff. I am fairly well off, why would my wife do that?” Asked if they could identify the cops and staffers who thrashed them, the friends said, “We were not able to see their names, but we can identify them if they are placed in front of us.” Finally, the two friends were let off after being asked to cough up Rs 1,200 as fine. Advocate and solicitor Shrikant Hathi said, “The police were extremely cruel. They have no authority to assault them. I will follow up on the issue.”
The other side
Senior Police Inspector R B Gidde of Bhoiwada traffic police station claimed that the youths had concocted the entire tale, saying, “The duo first hit our constable, who was standing alone. They tore his uniform too. Later, they assaulted one of towing boys, who badly injured his hand. All the allegations are false and baseless. In fact, they assaulted our cops. I was not present at the time of the incident.” Asked why they did not lodge a criminal case against the duo, Gidde said, “We do not want to destroy their future, and so did not register any case. If there have been damages, they can claim it through insurance. We cannot pay for it.”