Couple thrashed by cops: What's ailing Andheri police station?

Nov 05, 2015, 07:05 IST | Saurabh Vaktania and Shiva Devnath

Couple beaten by cops inside Andheri police station, whose video went viral, is the third incident in 2 weeks of aggression reported from this police outpost; will CCTVs across stations check police atrocity?

Even before Mumbai Police could live down the uproar that was caused by a viral video of cops beating up a young woman at Lalbaugcha Raja in September, yet another video has emerged of cops brutally dragging and thrashing a young couple.

Video: Mumbai cops thrash couple inside police station

In the clip, at least five cops can be seen dragging the couple apart and assaulting the boy, as the girl begs for mercy
In the clip, at least five cops can be seen dragging the couple apart and assaulting the boy, as the girl begs for mercy

Their crime? Having a lover’s tiff near the Andheri police station late at night. The fact that this is the third in a string of khaki terror displayed by Andheri police in just a fortnight, shows a shocking rise in police atrocities there.

Legally, cops do not have the right to assault anyone, not even while interrogating suspects. Despite this, no action was taken against the errant cops. An inquiry was launched into the incident after the video of the couple’s ordeal went viral on the Internet and the media yesterday.

The incident
On the midnight of November 2, the young couple were spotted fighting near the Andheri Metro station. The cops arrived on the scene and asked them what the problem was, and the girl responded that they were just arguing. They were taken to the police station nearby, where those passing by could soon hear the girl shrieking.

Andheri police station. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Andheri police station. Pics/Nimesh Dave

One of the passers-by — one Ghulam Maqbool Shaikh — captured the entire incident on video. In the clip, at least five cops, including a couple of women constables, can be seen dragging the couple apart and assaulting the boy, as the girl begs for mercy.

On October 22, two friends fought and went to file a complaint at Andheri police station, but the police ended up calling their family members and charging all of them for committing ‘affray’
On October 22, two friends fought and went to file a complaint at Andheri police station, but the police ended up calling their family members and charging all of them for committing ‘affray’

The boy was then taken to another room when he was thrashed even more cruelly. The couple was detained in the police station into the wee hours of the next day. Around 3 am, their parents arrived at the police station, all of them apologised to the cops and were then allowed to leave.

Not the first time
On the very same day, a 21-year-old woman in Powai was also attacked by a constable from Andheri police station. As mid-day had reported, the highly drunk cop called the woman ‘item’, and when she objected, he dragged her out of the auto rickshaw, abused and assaulted her (Drunk cop calls woman ‘item’, drags her out of auto when she protests, November 3).

He also told onlookers he was a policeman and would teach them a lesson if they interfered. Speaking to mid-day, the woman said, “Cops are supposed to protect us, but look at what is happening. I was taken aback by the incident. Tough action should be taken against the accused cop.”

The constable, Pramod Nalavade, was arrested for molestation and was suspended from duty. Just two weeks ago, a third such incident took place when two friends visited the Andheri police station to file a complaint after they had a fight.

They had gone to the police station hoping for a legal solution to their argument, but instead, it turned into a nightmare for both their families. “In the wee hours of October 22, I had a fight with one of my friends, and we went to Andheri police station to file a complaint over the issue.

Our family members were called to police station. Later, my friend apologised and we decided not to file a complaint, but the cops began to abuse us and took us back into the police station by force. They abused my mother and sister and then put me, my father and my uncle — a heart patient — into the lock-up,” alleged one of the victims.

In a bizarre move, the police filed a case against the family members as well — all 15 of them — under Section 160 (committing affray) of the IPC. “The issue had been sorted out, but they still took us inside and filed a complaint against us. No one in our family had a criminal background until this point,” the victim added.

The other side
When it comes to the couple that was thrashed, the police have their own version of events. “There is no fault from our side. However, inquiry is on in the matter. We called the couple’s parents and let them go with a warning after they apologised to us,” said ACP (Andheri division) Dilip Rupwate.

According to him, the man and woman were both drunk and fighting each other, so a TV reporter passing by the area called the police, thinking the woman was being harassed. Vinayak Deshmukh, DCP of Zone X told mid-day, “Both the girl and boy work for a call centre.

The boy resides at Byculla, while the girl lives in Nalasopara. On the day of the incident, the couple had consumed alcohol. They were having a major argument at Andheri; pedestrians even tried to stop the fight. One of the pedestrians was kicked, while the girl spat on another one.

Watch video: Woman thrashed by lady cops at Lalbaugcha Raja

After that, the couple was taken to the police station, where they again created ruckus.” “When the police told them they would be taken for a medical test (to determine blood alcohol content), both began shouting abuses. They held onto each other tightly, and the policemen tried to separate them, which is seen in the video,” the DCP added.

However, when asked why the cops had hit the boy, he said, “We have initiated an inquiry in the matter against the cops who hit the couple. No one has the right to hit anyone.” Deshmukh said the Powai incident could not be compared to this one, as it was a completely different matter, and the constable was off duty at the time.

He said that necessary action had been taken in that matter, but added he would have to check the details of the October 22 incident before he could comment on that.

Past mistake
The Mumbai Police had already faced severe backlash after a similar video had gone viral of cops attacking a female devotee at the Lalbaugcha Raja pandal in Parel. The cops had claimed that the woman had misbehaved with them, but after the public outcry over the incident, three constables were suspended.

However, the police clearly failed to learn from this. Innumerable cases of police atrocities have been reported till date, but there is still no system in place to keep a check on unruly police behaviour. According to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro, the only solution is to place CCTV cameras in each and every room in a police station.

“The incident, if true, is very bad. Cops have no right to hit anyone in any case. The police should go according to the law. If the couple had abused or assaulted them, then the cops should have filed a case against them; why assault them?” Ribeiro told mid-day.

‘Install CCTV cameras’
When asked how such incidents could be prevented in the future, the former CP said, “I suggest all police stations should be completely equipped with CCTV cameras.” This solution had been put forward by the Supreme Court on July 24, in a landmark verdict to prevent custodial torture.

The apex court had directed the Centre and state governments to put police stations and interrogation rooms under CCTV surveillance. The bench, comprising Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi, had also directed that at least two women constables must be appointed in every police station.

Accordingly, in September, former commissioner Rakesh Maria was asked to submit a report on the requirement of the cameras for Mumbai Police. The report was submitted to the Home department, but no response was received. The Home department is already planning to install a network of 6,000 CCTV cameras all over the city to strengthen the security apparatus.

If the city’s police stations are also included in this plan, an additional 500 cameras will be required. This will entail an extra financial burden of around Rs 16 crore to Rs 20 crore (over Rs 7 lakh per police station).

Currently, cameras installed at police stations have mostly been donated. Following yesterday’s video, the department has again instructed zonal DCPs to install CCTV cameras at the station house and all the detection rooms inside the police stations.

Police officials said that with every such order, they have to look for the sponsors who can finance the new equipment. Meanwhile, cops have also been asked to use their phones to record any such future incidents.

Expert speak

Rohini SalianRohini Salian, Special Public Prosecutor
Whatever happened in the police station should be properly investigated by senior policemen and appropriate action should be taken if the police are found guilty.

Abad Ponda, Advocate
The police has no right to beat anyone. They could have probably separated the couple if they were fighting, or could have arrested and charged them under the Bombay Prohibition Act, if they were found fighting drunk in a public place. The couple can file a complaint against the police for this behaviour under Section 323 (for voluntarily causing hurt).

Sudeep PassbolaSudeep Passbola, Criminal lawyer
Police has no right to touch anyone except when there is any danger to someone’s life. The couple can react by filing an FIR, or they can move the court under Article 226 in the Constitution or they can approach a human rights association or ask for compensation.

November 2
A drunk constable, Pramod Nalavade from Andheri police station, called a woman an ‘item’ and when she protested, pulled her out of an auto rickshaw and publicly abused and assaulted her

October 22
Two friends fight and take the dispute to the police station, but make up when they get there. Cops call their families and book 15 people for ‘committing affray’

— Inputs by Sailee Dhayalkar

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