The police force may have a bone to pick with MNS chief Raj Thackeray for flouting their orders and waging a massive rally in SoBo yesterday, but that didn’t stop a disillusioned, world-weary cop to express his undying gratitude towards the leader by presenting him with a yellow rose, as soon he stepped down from the podium after addressing his audience.
Police naik Pramod Tawde, who is attached to the Byculla Wireless department, made the gesture as a cop on duty, dressed in his full khaki garb, and Thackeray smilingly accepted the token.
The constable’s devotion for Thackeray seems to have stemmed from the MNS chief’s open and vociferous denunciation against the violence inflicted on policemen during the August 11 riots, and said that he was frustrated with the system that had failed to restore justice for him.
Speaking to the press later, a tearful Tawde said, “I am happy that Thackeray has addressed this issue. IAS, IPS officers have their unions but a constable does not have any union that supports him.”.
Beaten and bullied
An incident that took place on August 13, 2010 seems to have bred Tawde’s disillusionment. Tawde was posted with the traffic department and stationed near the Orange Gate of the Mumbai Port Trust, when he got embroiled in a row with jawans from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), who would allegedly park their trucks on P D’Mello Road, giving rise to traffic snarls. Tawde asked the jawans to move the trucks, and the situation soon escalated into an argument, at the end of which the CISF jawans allegedly thrashed Tawde.
Tawde had then registered a case of assault against the jawans. Two of the jawans involved in the assault have retired now, but don’t get pensions due to the complaint lodged against them by Tawde. They have allegedly been putting pressure on him to recant his complaint, but Tawde refuses to submit. The jawans have to come from Delhi for every court date.
Since then, Tawde has been fighting a solitary battle for justice. He claimed that he has written to the state’s Home Minister R R Patil, requesting that strict action be taken against the jawans who assaulted him.
He claims to never have received the support of his seniors in his campaign. “When I complain to my seniors, they mock me and say that I look like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose thanks to my glasses and cap. They even forcibly had me admitted to JJ Hospital claiming I am mentally unstable,” alleged Tawde.
He claimed to have written letters to the chief minister over six months ago, which elicited no response.
Even as Tawde continued to speak with the press, a police inspector started dragging him away from the stage. Tawde’s parting words were: “They have already started taking action against me. But I have Lord Ganesha on my side, and I will face any enquiries against me.” He was later taken into police custody.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik said, “Legal action will be taken against Tawde as per the law.” Sources said that Tawde may be suspended for his act of defiance.
However, some voices were heard in support of Tawde, albeit anonymous. A policeman attached to the Azad Maidan police station said in confidence, “I am happy that somebody thanked Raj for taking up our cause. There is anger in the force since the August 11 incident, as the accused are still roaming free. These are men who beat women constables with iron rods!”
“Tawde is just one among us venting his frustration with the workload and abuse received from senior officers. They never support us and always run away during crises. We are treated worse than cats and dogs. Human Rights are there for criminals, but not for the police,” said another police officer.