This case gets murkier every day. After a Vakola tenant was detained on false charges on Tuesday, and his next-door neighbour abducted as part of their landlord’s nefarious scheme to evict them from his property, the police department has transferred four cops involved in the wrongful detention to the police control room.
The Vakola police, who have been investigating the case, have now come under the scanner as well, for failing to respond to alerts from the victims’ neighbours. Yesterday, Assistant Police Inspector Mukund Yadav, Assistant Sub-inspector Kakad and two other constables from Bandra police station who had conducted the illegal raid on victim Rajesh Gupta’s residence were transferred to the police control room in the west region.
Locals who witnessed the police thrashing Gupta and goons abducting his neighbour Sufiyan Shah minutes later, have now raised serious questions about the utter inaction of the Vakola police. Investigations have revealed that on the night of the incident, a neighbour called the Mumbai police control room at 100. She gave all the details of the incident, her name and address, but no cop from the local police station showed up all night. It was only after the neighbour and a local activist went to the Vakola police station the next morning to relay the horrific events, that an investigation was initiated.
Witness Smita Santosh Shinde said, “At 2.56 am, I called Mumbai police number 100. I gave them my name, address and every minute detail of the incident. I even begged and requested the cop to send a team. The officer said he was sending a team, but no one turned up.” Social activist Naina Patil said, “Not a single cop came that night. Finally we went to the Vakola police station the next morning and informed them about the matter. In fact, they claimed that they had not received any call from the control room.”
Shinde said, “Despite such a huge national outrage about violence against women, that Mumbai police failed to respond to calls that were made to them by a woman.” An officer involved in the investigations said, “The role of Vakola police in the case is highly suspicious. They were the closest to the spot. After the control room informed the staff at the local police station, the least they could have done was to send two constables and get the information verified.”
Patil added, “A case should be lodged against the Bandra cops. They are involved in the case, by their own admission. The senior officer and his staff should be interrogated. There are also chances that someone from Vakola was involved. Several cops are involved in the matter. In a few days, we will be undertaking a protest march against the cops.”
On Tuesday night, Vakola-based tenant Rajesh Gupta (20) was picked up by the Bandra cops on suspicion of drug possession. The cops thrashed him, and dragged him to the station. Within minutes, around 30 men arrived in a tempo. Claiming to be cops, they broke into the flat and left with his valuables. They also forced entry into Gupta’s neighbour Sufiyan Shah house. The goons abducted Sufiyan and took all his valuables with them.
Their landlord, JC D’Souza was later arrested for masterminding the crime. The Bandra cops, who conducted the raid outside their jurisdiction, allegedly did so without informing the local Vakola police, which goes against police protocol. Though the Bandra police claimed that they had found drugs in Gupta’s possession, they shied away from filing charges against him. This has also raised questions.
Addl CP speaks
Giving details of the case, Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre Patil said, “All the four policemen have been asked to report to the west region control room. If the call details prove any connection that the cops were acting on the instructions of the landlords, they will be arrested in the case.” Admitting that the role of Vakola police cannot be ruled out in the matter, Patil said, “An investigation is being conducted by a DCP level officer, and if we get any default report pertaining to the Vakola police station staff, serious action will be taken against them too.”
The best thing to do in the case is to file a writ petition in the court. The court will take strict action against the cops. Also the victims can file for compensation. The involved cops can be charged for illegal detention, abuse, assault, false implication, kidnapping and several other sections.” - Rajendra Rathod, criminal lawyer
There are several decisions of the HC and SC that have held that detention is effectively an arrest. The Contempt of Courts Act can also be invoked against the police. Multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code may be invoked, including sections 119, 120, 166, 167, 121, 193, 194, 195, 219, 319, 320, 321, 322, 329, 331, 339, 340, 343, 347, 348, 349, 350, 351, 357, 359, 362, 383, 403 and 442 along with various provisions of the NDPS Act. - Kranti LC, Human Rights lawyer