Millions across India may be cheering the onset of the festive season but there is gloom in the police barracks in Madhya Pradesh. Dejected cops say the morale of the force is low as the government has sided with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and punished police officers who take any action against the Hindu group members.
An example of this alleged favouritism played out around two weeks ago, when a senior RSS leader Suresh Yadav accused the police of thrashing him in custody. A medical report ruled out life-threatening injuries but the state government charged 10 policemen with attempt-to-murder, triggering widespread anger among the forces.
The case has now turned into a full-blown political war following the transfer of two senior officers for “wrongly handling the case”. The Congress says the BJP administration is acting on behalf of its ideological parent, the RSS, and demoralising the police — a charge many in the force agree with.
“This is a real sad series of events. But, we cannot do anything as the decisions are being taken at the highest political levels,” a police official said, requesting anonymity. Another police officer said the force had become victims of the government’s bid to appease the RSS.
The wife of one of the 10 officers charged with attempt to murder says her husband was targeted because he is Muslim. “I met the director general of police sahib, and requested him to ensure the safety of my family, and especially my young children,” she told HT.
Three video clips purportedly showing Yadav walking around in a hospital emerged on Wednesday — indicating the RSS leader wasn’t severely injured as claimed earlier —but the government hasn’t backed down. But this isn’t the only such case. Observers say the state government has been cracking down on any attempt to book RSS members – an attempt, opposition parties allege, to keep the often unruly Hindu groups happy.
On October 12, some RSS workers clashed with Muslims over a procession in western MP’s Petlawad and a shop owned by a Muslim man’s shop was set ablaze. A case was registered against 14 people, and three RSS members were picked up for interrogation, who quickly accused the police of beating them up.
Angered at detention of their cadre, the saffron body brought life to a standstill at Petlawad.
Two days later, the RSS shut down the entire district and blocked major highways, demanding the immediate removal of concerned police officials. The government immediately removed sub-divisional police official Rakesh Vyas and inspector of Petlwad police station KS Shaktwat, and ordered an inquiry.
“This is wrong. The government should not have done this with the police force,” a professor of political science of a local university said. Former union minister and Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia also criticised the incident, and said the BJP government should not have politicised the Balaghat incident.
Members of the MP police officers association are also not happy with the government’s move in punishing the police personnel without establishment of their crime. “We cannot make any official statement on the Balaghat issue but we are not happy,” an official said.
Retired officers say it would be wrong to blame the force before the allegations are proved. According to former director general of police, SC Tripathi, if the first medical report is to be believed, accusing the policemen of trying to murder the RSS leader doesn’t seem reasonable.
“It seems the case has been lodged against the policemen either out of over enthusiasm or under some pressure,” Tripathi said.
A copy of the first medical certificate, which is in possession of HT, does not talk about any grievous injuries.