The Mumbai police department is seething under its skin at the nonchalance of politicians, after an assistant inspector with the traffic department was thrashed inside Vidhan Bhavan yesterday.
Senior IPS officers held a hush-hush meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his cabinet colleagues later in the day, demanding to know why an upholder of the law attacked lawmakers.
Around 4.30 pm, State Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Dr Satyapal Singh, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vivek Phansalkar, Jt CP (Crime) Himanshu Roy, Additional DGP Satish Mathur and two other senior cops met Chavan. As per sources, the police top brass said the government should protect policemen, not attack them.
“A number of avenues were available to the MLAs, such as suspension, breach of privilege motion or dismissal, to punish an official. Certainly, thrashing a policeman cannot be the way to deal with such a case. This will demoralise the entire police force,” the officials told the CM.
“An appropriate legal action would be initiated against a group of MLAs. The CCTV footage would be scanned to ascertain the identities of MLAs who assaulted the victim,” said a senior police official. When contacted, DGP Dayal said he was busy in a meeting.
Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryavanshi (38), a resident of Andheri and a native of Sangli, was posted in the Worli traffic division 20 days ago. According to CP Satyapal Singh, in a road safety campaign on Monday, the traffic police cracked down on rash driving on the Bandra Worli Sea Link, which has a speed limit of 50 km.
Police had fined more than 16 motorists for rash driving, when MLA Thakur allegedly cruised by at 101 kmph. The API asked him to halt. A clout-riddled argument ensued. The lawmaker was taken to the nearest police chowkie and fined Rs 700.
The day after, Suryavanshi was summoned to the Assembly to explain his action, when the MLAs charged at him and thrashed him in full public view, following an alleged affront made by him in the Assembly house.
On Tuesday, the Marine Drive police recorded API Suryavanshi’s statement. According him, deputy chairman of the state council Vasant Davkhare had called him to resolve the issue with the MLA. Around 11.30 am, he was standing outside Davkhare’s cabin when MNS MLA Ram Kadam appeared. He forced Suryavanshi to apologise to Thakur.
Suryavanshi refused, stating that he was only doing his job and that he was ready to face any legal action. A livid Kadam slapped him, soon joined in by MLAs Kshitij Thakur, Rajan Salvi (Shiv Sena), Independent Pradeep Jaiswal and BJP MLA Jaykumar Rawal, who chased, grabbed, slapped and punched him.
The Vidhan Bhavan security staff took him away to the security’s room where doctors were called. Home Minister RR Patil, Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse and a few MLAs visited him there. He was then taken to JJ Hospital for a CT scan, and later shifted to St George Hospital. “He is stable. He has been admitted in the surgical ward,” said Dr DR Kulkarni, superintendent, St George Hospital.
Krishna Prakash, additional commisoner of police, told MiD Day, “On the complaint of API Sachin Suryavanshi, a case has been registered at Marine Drive police station. Accused MLAs Ram Kadam and Kshitij Thakur along with 14-15 others (yet to be identified) assaulted him, obstructed him from doing his duty, threatened and abused him by gathering in an unlawful assembly.”
DCP Ravindra Shisve (Zone I) said, “Marine Drive police has lodged an FIR under IPC section 353, 341, 323 143, 149, 506 (ii), 504 and 34 and 7 of the Criminal Amendment Act.” The case has now been handed over to the Crime Branch for further investigations.