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Rathi: A rising star who came undone

Old timers remember ACP Satyavir Singh Rathi as one of the most promising of the 1973-batch of Sub-Inspectors that was inducted into the Delhi Police, writes Tushar Srivastava.

delhi Updated: Oct 17, 2007 01:38 IST
Tushar Srivastava

Old timers remember ACP Satyavir Singh Rathi as one of the most promising of the 1973-batch of Sub-Inspectors that was inducted into the Delhi Police.

Rathi showed promise from the very beginning and with his carefully created network of informants started to deliver. What followed were two out-of-turn-promotions and the tag of an “encounter specialist”, which soon made Rathi a favourite of the Delhi Police brass.

There was a time, senior officers remember, when it was believed Rathi could do no wrong. He and his younger brother, Udayveer Rathi, became the blue-eyed boys of the force. “They grew in stature with each encounter and bagged the best postings,” a senior official said.

One of Rathis most publicised encounters was one in which he killed Satbir Gujjar, a western UP gangster involved in many kidnapping and extortion cases — he loved jeans and discotheques. Rathi shot him in West Delhi as he stepped out of a telephone booth.

Rathi was ACP Rohini when the then police commissioner, Nikhil Kumar, brought him into the elite crime branch. Kumar apparently was a great believer in Rathi’s abilities to transform the unit and thought he would be an asset to crime branch.

That was the beginning of the end of Rathi’s golden run.

As Rathi received accolades, he also made a number of enemies. That was also the time when competition between ACPs and inspectors became intense — who killed most. Officers who closely worked with Rathi during the 90s, however, still vouch for him.

The CP encounter, many feel, happened due to the mistake of Rathi’s team and he arrived at the spot only after the last bullet had been fired.

The story goes like this: Yaseen’s phone had been put on surveillance by the crime branch. They were monitoring his movements. During one of the conversations, Yaseen had apparently asked his associates to meet him near the Mother Dairy plant.

The gangsters, the police knew, would be coming in a car with a UP registration plate. However, the Mother Dairy plant the gangsters were rendezvousing at was in Sarai Kale Khan while the police team waited for them in Patparganj.

As luck would have it, a car with a UP-number did happen by at the Patparganj Mother Dairy and the man sitting inside looked a bit Yaseen. The police team started trailing the car and intercepted it in Connaught Place. The crime branch team, led by inspector Anil Kumar, was in touch with ACP Rathi on the wireless. Rathi was in court at that time.

Rathi, senior officials said, had thrice given clear-cut instructions to his team not to open fire till the time he reached the spot.

The next half hour was full of dramatic developments and by the time Rathi reached the spot, two men had been shot dead by his team.

This is a version of events given out by Rathi’s seniors in the police. But the other members of the team that shot the two business told the court, according to a copy of the written order given by the additional sessions judge on Tuesday, “…all the other accused persons have stated in their statements … that accused SS Rathi, ACP, was very much present at the spot and the firing took place under his supervision and that they had acted in obedience to the lawful command of their superior ACP SS Rathi."

The case was transferred to the CBI and Rathi and his team were arrested after a chargesheet was filed.

The information on Yaseen on which Rathi had been working was passed on to another team of the crime branch, which arrested the gangster from Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj in 1994.