'Panel only a ruse to stall police probe'

Mar 29, 2013, 06:54 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh and Vinay Dalvi

Sources say real reason behind forming legislative panel to probe thrashing of traffic API by MLAs in Vidhan Bhavan was taken only to freeze further investigations by police

All motives are ulterior, utterly so in politics. It turns out the state legislature’s action to form a committee to investigate the thrashing of a traffic cop by MLAs in Vidhan Bhavan was nothing but some heavyweight atmospherics to keep the cops at bay.

MLAs Kshitij Thakur and Ram Kadam at police headquarters near Crawford Market last week. Crime Branch sources say the police will file a chargesheet against the two but won’t make further arrests in the case related to the beating of a traffic API. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Political sources have confirmed to MiD DAY that the legislative panel is just a smokescreen to shake the Mumbai police off the accused MLAs’ tail, and stall further probe by the Crime Branch. “The legislature cannot be seen to be cowed down by the executive the police,” a highly-placed source said. “With the committee in place, the Mumbai police inquiry into the case is likely to be redundant.”

The panel has decided to summon Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryavanshi of the Mumbai traffic police on Monday and three of the five suspended MLAs allegedly involved in beating him up.

Headed by senior MLA Ganpatrao Deshmukh of Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWP), the committee has been appointed to listen to the accused legislators, who are aggrieved that a “great injustice” was done to them. The panel will also go through the CCTV footage of the incident that took place on March 19 in the first-floor corridor of Vidhan Bhavan.

After going through the submission of the MLAs and the CCTV footage, the committee will submit its findings by next week. Its observations in the report will impact the police probe being carried out by the Crime Branch, said sources.

For its part, the Crime Branch seems to have contented itself with a wait-and-watch line of attack. No more arrests have been made since those of MLAs Ram Kadam and Kshitij Thakur, even though the FIR lodged in the case states Suryavanshi was beaten by over a dozen other legislators.

Well played
Notably, though the Deshmukh Committee has been allowed to go through the CCTV footage to verify the facts, the Crime Branch has not been granted access to it. Instead, the state secretariat has sought an opinion by the central secretariat in the matter.

As such, before the police can move further, the legislative panel will have made its assessment. And if it raises doubts over the involvement of the suspended legislators or opines that it is difficult to say with certainty which legislators beat Suryavanshi, the balance might tip, officials feel.

Sources in the Mumbai Crime Branch in charge of the investigation say they will file a chargesheet against MLAs Kadam and Thakur but won’t make further arrests, as they don’t have eyewitnesses or CCTV footage of the incident. “Also, Kadam and Thakur have not named anybody in their statements, making it difficult for us to carry on with the probe. With the pressure mounting, the Branch is likely to leave the matter alone,” said the source. 

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