A police officer on field duty in Madhya Pradesh cannot give an excuse that he did not know the person he dealt with was a leader of a national organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Home minister Bhupendra Singh said.
Singh said he would make sure all officers in-charge of police stations have information on the who’s who of all social organisations in their respective areas. The organisations include the RSS.
Also, those police officers who have a bad track record while on field duty will not be involved in public dealings, he said.
The orders are a fallout of an incident in which RSS pracharak Suresh Yadav was assaulted allegedly by police in Balaghat on September 25.
After the RSS leadership gave vent to its anger over the incident, an FIR was lodged against an ASP, a thana in-charge, an assistant sub-inspector and other police personnel on charges of ‘attempting to murder’ Yadav. The TI and the ASI were immediately placed under suspension.
On Wednesday, the home minister announced during the state BJP executive meet that 10 policemen, including the ASP, have been suspended and FIRs lodged against them.
Singh told Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the BJP meet that the police officers had pleaded before their superiors that they didn’t know Yadav was an RSS pracharak.
Singh said this excuse was not justified. Even if they didn’t know Yadav, he said the policemen had no right to beat him brutally. “Even a common man had the right to be treated with dignity,” he said.
To avoid recurrence of any such situation, town inspectors will gather information about office-bearers of all social organisations, including the RSS, in their area.
Singh said after the incident, he came to know that the ASP was involved in such excesses in the past too and that he had a bad track record.
The minister added he would look into it that officers who had a bad record should not get such postings, which involved dealing with the public.
Singh said a special team will track down the accused policemen who were absconding. “They will be arrested soon.”
At the same time, the home minister said the Balaghat incident cannot be taken as symbolic of the police force’s behaviour.
“It is the same police which control crimes in the state, and which managed the crowd in an excellent manner during the Simhastha fair which saw a footfall of about 8 crore,” he said.
Police have earned accolades for their humanitarian approach in helping the elderly and the infirm, Singh added.
UNEASE OVER CLARIFICATION
Several BJP leaders are questioning the party brass’ decision to get a clarification from the home minister over the Balaghat incident to the party’s state executive members.
On Wednesday, BJP state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan asked Bhupendra Singh to give a clarification over the action taken by him so far.
The BJP leaders didn’t express annoyance at the meet as there was no open session for them to express views. More importantly, the victim happens to be a RSS pracharak. Anything said to question Singh’s action will annoy the RSS leadership too, a party leader said.
Another senior leader told HT that Singh’s clarification could have been avoided. Anything spoken by Singh regarding the police action - without conducting a proper inquiry - was bound to show the government in a poor light, the leader said. “His statement favouring the RSS pracharak and projecting the police personnel as accused may influence outcome of the inquiry and also demoralize the police force.”
A party leader said the clarification could have been conveyed by someone not holding a government post. Singh is already on record saying action would be taken against the erring policemen, the leader added.
Sources in BJP said Singh gave the clarification at the insistence of Chauhan. The latter did it at the behest of a senior leader holding an important position in Delhi, they said.
Already, a message is circulating on the social media questioning the action against the policemen.
BJP chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya sought to downplay the matter. “Whatever a member of the committee spoke at the meet was in the capacity of a party and a committee member,” he said.