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Police infighting over bravery awards

The Mumbai police bravely fought terrorists in November 2008. But now they seem to be fighting amongst themselves over nominations for gallantry medals, reports Debasish Panigrahi.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2009 14:56 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

The Mumbai police bravely fought terrorists in November 2008. But now they seem to be fighting amongst themselves over nominations for gallantry medals.

The names of those who will be honoured with the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry and Ashok Chakra will be announced on Republic Day — January 26.

The resentment, which was brewing after the state government sought the top bravery citations for all 80 policemen involved in the 26/11 operations, has now become public. Complaints are being filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs against some nominations.

One such complaint, filed by a senior police official which has been accessed by Hindustan Times, alleged that Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Vishwas Nagre Patil and Additional Commissioner of Police (Protection & Security) Vinay Koregaonkar had been recommended by Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor while bypassing the Director General of Police’s (DGP) office.

A majority of the complaints allege that Gafoor had made recommendations without following protocol — channelising them through the DGP’s office.

“Deservingly, many officers and men who fought gallantly... have been recommended for the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry,” the letter said. “However, some of the nominations… are based on considerations other than gallantry.”

It claimed that some nominations have been made as a result of groupism within the police force. “The commissioner has formed a coterie of officers and even in the nominations this has played a role,” the letter alleged.

The complainant alleged that Patil’s name has been recommended for his role in the police operations at the Taj. “In reality, he [Patil] had run away when fired upon [by terrorists], leaving two men [constables] behind who were shot by the terrorists.”

On Koregaonkar’s nomination, the letter stated: “His nomination is a clear case of favouritism by the commissioner. Koregaonkar and his staff never came face-to-face with the terrorists or exchanged fire. The acts, which are attributed to him, were carried out by other officers whose names did not find mention even on the ‘Participated but not being recommended’ list.”

Rubbishing the allegations, Gafoor said: “I had received, not one but three letters from the DGP’s office, asking me to send [recommend] names directly in view of the urgency of the situation. The letters were signed by Inspector General of Police Suresh Kakkad on behalf of the DGP. This fact is known to all.”

Dismissing allegations of favouritism in the nomination process, he said: “The names which had been sent for the gallantry medals deserve the honour. We had sent the names of those who died during the operations for the Ashok Chakra while those injured had been recommended for the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry.”

Despite several attempts, DGP A.N. Roy was unavailable for comments.