Before the Prakash Singh committee, probing the acts of omission and commission on part of the police and civil officials, has submitted its report, Haryana Police have got cracking on action against more than 100 policemen of various ranks for failing to perform their duties in violence-hit districts of Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat and Hisar during the Jat quota agitation.
Of these, 16 cops, including inspectors, sub-inspectors, head constables and constables, have been placed under suspension by Rohtak superintendent of police (SP) Shashank Anand for dereliction of duty and other serious lapses, whereas departmental inquiries are underway against 48 others. They include station house officers (SHOs) of areas that saw protesters having a free run or whose police stations were ransacked, burnt down and robbed of weapons during the violence in the state in February, according to police sources.
Inspector Ram Niwas, who has been placed under suspension, was the SHO of the Meham police station which was robbed of weapons and then set afire by miscreants. Similarly, inspector Yogwinder, SHO of Kalanaur police station, has been placed under suspension for failure to check arson and violence in the town, according to a police spokesman.
Sub-inspector Balkishan, SHO of the Urban Estate police station, and assistant sub-inspector Ashok, in-charge of a police chowki, have been suspended for failing to stop arson and loot at finance minister Captain Abhimanyu’s house in Rohtak.
Another four constables posted at Abhimanyu’s house have been suspended for abandoning their post.
Rohtak district, the epicentre of the quota agitation, had witnessed the worst-ever violence and complete failure of law and order machinery during the stir, as rampaging mobs indulged in widespread violence and burnt down shops, schools, malls etc, selecting their targets on purpose.
In Hisar also, SP Ashwin Shenvi has initiated departmental inquiries against 37 police personnel for “desertion of duty” during the quota agitation two months ago. “I have ordered departmental inquiries against them. The process is on,” Shenvi told HT.
The inspector general of police (IGP), Hisar range, had also given a notice to the district radio officer (DRO) asking him to disclose details of the calls received and their response during the stir. Similarly, the SPs of Sonepat and Jhajjar have also placed under suspension or initiated departmental inquiries against several policemen, but details are not available.
Resentment among cops
While the role of several senior police officers has come under question, suspensions and departmental inquiries against policemen at lower levels have led to resentment among the police personnel in Rohtak district who are claiming that they did not get orders to take action to control the violence. “Why aren’t they taking action against personnel of the paramilitary forces or the army who were deployed the district when all this was happening? Why are the policemen being targeted? ‘Humko orders hi nahin the, hum kya karte? (We didn’t have orders. What could we have done?),” asked a policeman, who didn’t want to be named.
The Haryana Police Association, whose members had met the Prakash Singh committee in Rohtak, said they had drawn its attention to attempts to put the entire blame on policemen. “Can policemen, irrespective of their caste, refuse to obey the orders of the SP or IG? The top cops are blaming their juniors to cover their own misdoings,” claimed SI Rajender Tomar, president of Haryana Constables and Head Constables Association. When asked, IGP, Rohtak range, Sanjay Kumar refused to comment on statements of the association, calling it an “unrecognised body”.
‘Yet to compile report’
Former IPS officer Prakash Singh, who heads the one-member inquiry committee, said on Tuesday that he was yet to compile the inquiry report. He said he would submit the inquiry findings before May 4. “The report has not been prepared yet. And, all the documents and evidences pertaining to the inquiry are in my custody,’’ he told HT. Singh had earlier said that deliberate police inaction during the quota violence had a caste tinge to it.
The probe committee has heard over 2,200 persons, including officials, during the past month-and-a-half and recorded their statements. The inquiry proceedings, including the testimonies of the officials were video-graphed by the committee. The state government, which has been under fire for its failure to deal with the violence, had last week replaced the state director general of police and the CID chief. The quota stir had resulted in loss of lives, violence, road blockades, including national highways, and extensive damage to public and private properties in several districts.
(With inputs from Chandigarh and Hisar).