3 cops suspended for feeding a terrorist

Oct 18, 2011, 07:17 IST | Bhupen Patel

Two female constables and one head constable have been suspended for giving dry fruits to 2003 blast convict Fahmida Syed, whom they were guarding in court.

Two female constables and one head constable have been suspended for giving dry fruits to 2003 blast convict Fahmida Syed, whom they were guarding in court.

Passing on some seemingly innocuous dry fruits to your famished neighbour in a courtroom could well be the perfect example of a daily good deed. However, if you are a police constable on duty, and your neighbour happens to be a cold-blooded terrorist on death row, passing these tasty treats might be the most ill-advised gesture, which could cost you your job. 

Food for thought: Fahmida Syed was sentenced to death in 2009.
File pic for representation

Digest this: Hanif Syed and his wife Fahmida were convicted for their
role in the 2003 twin blasts. After being sentenced to death, Hanif is
said to have flashed a victory sign. File pics

Two female constables and one head constable attached to the Local Arms Unit of the Mumbai police have been suspended on charges of leniency, for passing on dry fruits to Fahmida Syed, who faces capital punishment for her role in the 2003 twin blasts in the city.

Ill-timed mercy
The three constables in the line of fire are Maya Dhage, Sonal Gavai and Keshav Suryavanshi, who made the mistake of choosing Fahmida as the recipient of their ill-timed gesture of benevolence. Fahmida, along with her husband Hanif and their associate Ashrat Ansari, had cold-bloodedly planted bombs that killed 52 and maimed 244 at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar on August 25, 2003.

Sources from the Local Arms Unit revealed that on September 12, the three cops were deployed to escort Fahmida and Syed to the Bombay High Court, for a hearing from Judge A Khanvilkar. In course of a break during the court session, they were allegedly seen passing some dry fruits to a hungry Fahmida.

When the court session resumed, Judge Khanvilkar noticed that the terrorist on death row was unmindfully chomping on dry fruits. Finding it difficult to stomach the irreverence, Khanvilkar investigated the matter. To his shock, he discovered that the very guards escorting them had passed on the treats. Outraged, he reprimanded them severely.

What punishment?
Needless to say, the incident did not go down well with high-level officials of the police department. A meeting was speedily arranged within a week, with bigwigs -- including Additional Chief Secretary Umeshchandra Sarangi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Local Arms Unit) Manoj Lohiya and senior lawyers -- racking their brains for the perfect way to address this curious violation.

"On interrogation, the constables revealed to appalled officials that the dry fruits in question were handed over to them in court by close acquaintances of the couple on death row. The acquaintances appealed to the constables' mercy, claiming that dry fruits would be good for the weakening constitution of the incarcerated Fahmida," revealed an officer close to the investigations.

Honchos of the Local Arms Unit also called for an inquiry against their staff members, and chewed over the problem. After discussing the issue for almost a month, the inquiry committee passed its verdict on October 12, holding the three constables guilty of leniency towards cold-blooded criminals, while on duty. They were then suspended from the department.

Confirming the suspension, DCP Lohiya said, "Based on the departmental inquiries, the constables were found guilty. They have been suspended. Cops given the duty of guarding such criminals should not be so distracted, unmindful and careless. They cannot afford to exercise leniency while guarding criminals in court."

Deja vu
In 2007, Constable R Kalekar, who had shaken hands and hugged actor Sanjay Dutt, after his release from Yerwada jail in Pune, had been suspended while eight other police personnel faced departmental probe for showing friendly gestures towards the actor. Dutt had been convicted under the Arms Act in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.

On August 25, 2003 twin car-bombings claimed 52 lives, injuring 244 others. The first bomb exploded at the Gateway of India, while the other went off in Zaveri Bazar. Both had been planted in parked taxis.
Following the incident, cops arrested Ashrat Ansari, Hanif Syed and his wife Fahmida. All three were convicted and sentenced to death in 2009 by a special PoTA court in Mumbai. After being sentenced to death, a defiant Hanif is said to have flashed a victory sign.

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