Goons who abused MiD DAY journalists at a restaurant on Monday were arrested and then released on bail yesterday; moments later, our photographer Rane Ashish captured the main accused, Shashank Kalyankar, smiling and shaking hands with an inspector at the police station
While, the police is expected to be sensitive towards a victim, especially when the victims are women, police officers at Bhoiwada police station extended the courtesies towards the accused who allegedly abused them.
Kalyankar and two other accused surrendered to the Bhoiwada police, after an FIR was lodged in the case
MiD DAY had reported how five of its journalists (four female, one male) had gone for lunch at Aditi Veg Restaurant in Parel and were abused by six unknown men in the foulest of language (‘Six diners abuse journalists over shifting their chairs’, February 18).
Our photographer caught police inspector Sunil Kale from Bhoiwada police station greeting accused Shashank Kalyankar outside the police station minutes after the journalists identified Kalyankar as one of the men who abused them. Pic/Rane Ashish
Three of the six men surrendered voluntarily to the Bhoiwada police station, after an FIR was lodged in the case. However, minutes later, our photographers spotted one of the accused men shaking hands with a police inspector of the Bhoiwada police station. This raises concerns over how seriously the police treat cases.
Two of the accused men, Shashank Kalyankar (in white) and Shashikant Bawlekar. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
At police station
The Bhoiwada police arrested three of the six men who had allegedly abused five journalists of this newspaper in the central Mumbai eatery. Of the three, one man, the police said, was closely affiliated to a Member of Parliament (MP) and the rest were all musicians.
CCTV footage showing Shrinivas Shetty (circled), the owner of Aditi, during the fight
After four female reporters complained to the cops that they were subjected to filthy abuse by six unidentified men while having lunch in a restaurant near Parel, the police registered an FIR under sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 294 (obscene acts and songs).
Aditi restaurant near MiD DAY’s Parel office. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
After the ordeal was written about in MiD DAY, the three surrendered to the police. “We have arrested Shashank Suresh Kalyankar, a Kalwa resident, Jaisingh Mahadeo Indulkar, resident of Ghatkopar, and Shashikant Shantaram Bawlekar, a resident of Vikhroli, in the case.
All of them are musicians. Of the six, we found these three playing a role in the act, after watching the CCTV footage. Based on the video evidence, we arrested them,” said Sunil Tondwalkar, senior police inspector of Bhoiwada police station.
However, all three were granted bail at the police station with surety. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone V) Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “The accused appeared at the Bhoiwada police station at 9 am yesterday, along with their lawyers.
They were granted bail around 2 pm, after their statements were recorded.” A police officer added, “Kalyankar is closely affiliated to a Navi Mumbai politician and Thane MP, Sanjeev Naik. He looks after Naik’s programmes in Kalwa area and organises janta darbars for him.”
Friends or accused?
One of the MiD DAY journalists recalled how the police officers were mingling with the accused, even letting them use their own phones to make calls. “I received a call around 9.15 am from the police station, asking us to come for the case to identify the arrested accused.
When we went there, the accused was using the police officer’s phone to make a call. When he saw us journalists, he immediately handed the phone to the officer. I was surprised to see this.
The investigating officer told us that the accused approached the police themselves after reading reports of the incident, hence there was no need to arrest them,” he said. What highlights the officials’ callous behaviour is that on Tuesday, MiD DAY’s office had received a call from an informer, identifying Shashank Kalyankar from Kalwa.
This information had been passed on to the police. “Despite this, they did nothing. Instead, they waited for the accused to surrender themselves,” added the journalist. Minutes after the journalists left the police station, this paper’s photographers spotted a police officer shaking hands with the accused.
Restaurant owner speaks
Shrinivas Shetty, the owner of Aditi Veg Restaurant, and his staff witnessed the entire drama. According to Shetty, he was sitting inside the cabin of the hotel and heard loud voices. One of the staff members informed him of the argument.
“Initially, I thought the noise was from outside the hotel. When I came to know it was on my own premises, I went and tried to settle the matter. My priority was to first safeguard my customers than to bother about anything else,” said Shetty.
He said he had suggested that the journalists shift to another table. But the arguments became heated and nobody moved. “I stood there for a long time to protect my customers. The group of men was abusing the women by commenting about the language they speak.
One of the men asked them to go back to UP and MP and speak in this language there. I heard them commenting about the physical appearance of one of the women in the group,” recalled Shetty.
According to him, the group of men had visited the hotel for the first time. “They were very aggressive. I don’t know if they were from a party or not. But this was arrogance of power,” he said.
When we asked Madhukar Pandey, additional commissioner of police, central region about this, he said, “If any favourable treatment is given to anybody we will surely take action against the concerned police officer.”
'I don’t feel safe any more in the city'
A female reporter from the group writes an open letter to new Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria. “In a city whose police commissioner had emphasised on women’s safety, I, as a woman, would like to tell you, Mr Maria, that no woman is safe. A gang of men abused me, my mother, called me names, threatened me and my colleagues.
When I later went to the police station to identify them, I saw that the accused were being given five-star treatment. They were using phones belonging to police officers, shaking hands with them, and within minutes of we identifying them, they were let free. They were not even taken to court for bail. They were given bail right there in the police station.
I was already shaken by the incident, but no one came to support us; this even includes the staff of the restaurant. I could see no remorse in the eyes of the men who abused us. The police appeared to be more sympathetic towards them than towards us, who were at the receiving end.
I say this because in spite of there being provisions to include of harsher sections of the Indian Penal Code in the FIR, they were still booked under sections that would let them walk free within minutes of appearing in front of the cops.
Mr Maria, you may be sensitive towards women (as you say). But there’s a need to sensitise the lower ranks in the police department towards women. You may speak about safety of women; but today, as a victim of abuse by men, at a public place like a restaurant, I stand helpless. Being a journalist, I faced such a torrid time at the police station. I can only imagine what the common man/woman must go through.
As far as the allegations are concerned, about we calling those men ‘ghati’, one of the reporters there with us is a Maharashtrian. We would never use such words even jokingly, let alone as an insult. Strict action needs to be taken against these men, and also against the policemen who let them off so easily.”
The other side
In his statement, Shashank Kalyankar told the cops that he and his group had come to meet their friend Suryakant Surve of KEM Hospital, who was allegedly assaulted by a police constable from Bhoiwada police station after a resident doctor accused him of stealing Rs 8,000 from his wallet.
(Policeman locks up KEM ward boy, assaults him over suspected theft, February 15). Surve confirmed to MiD DAY that Kalyankar had indeed met him on Monday.
As they got delayed in the meeting, they decided to have lunch in the restaurant. Kalyankar stated that the waiters at the restaurant delayed bringing rotis to the table and that is when he shouted at the staffer.
On hearing his screams, one of the female reporters at the adjacent table passed a remark, calling him and his friends “uncultured and a ghati”. He denied any misbehaviour of using offensive language against the reporters.
'FIR should’ve included stricter sections'
Explaining how the case could’ve been made stronger by adding harsher sections of the Indian Penal code, senior criminal lawyer Dinesh Tiwari said, “The police should’ve applied Section 506 (ii) of the IPC, apart from 294, 504 and 506. This would’ve made the offence non-bailable in Mumbai.”
Accused under IPC
Section 504: Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace
Section 506: Criminal intimidation
Section 294: Obscene words in public place