The men in black have always shared a love-hate relationship with the men in khaki, but things came to a head in Ulhasnagar yesterday, as hundreds of lawyers struck work at Chopra court alleging that cops had physically assaulted one of them. According to the complaint (copy available with MiD DAY), a woman named Sunita Mohan More had gone to lodge a case at Ulhasnagar I police station.
On-duty officer sub-inspector Bajirao Dhekne allegedly demanded Rs 5,000 from her. More then approached advocate Pankaj Mahale who accompanied her to the police station around 6.30 pm.
Dhekne allegedly repeated his demand. A heated argument ensued between Mahale and Dhekne. Mahale claims Dhekne grabbed his collar and pulled him inside the police station, where the latter and a constable Dhole flogged him.
“Mahale was abused, threatened and thrashed by cops inside the police station. It’s astounding that police officers are demanding a bribe from lawyers,” said advocate Mahesh Sharma, treasurer of Ulhas-nagar Taluka Bar Association.
After discussing the situation with other senior lawyers, Mahale went to lodge a complaint at the police station, but has accused cops of not complying. Apart from striking work at court yesterday, more than a hundred lawyers also gheraoed Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Dr Shivaji Rathod. They claim Rathod refused to register an FIR against the cops. He, however, has assured that he will conduct a departmental inquiry and will take necessary action.
“Finally, we filed a private complaint against the cops in court, demanding action under Sections 161 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 340 (wrongful confinement), 349 (force), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The strike will continue,” said VP Singh, a senior lawyer. “The matter came to me. I asked the zonal DCP to initiate an inquiry and take legal action,” said Bipin Kumar Singh, joint commissioner of police, Thane.