It took the Versova police less than 24 hours to prepare a tailor-made report on the police encounter that took place under their jurisdiction on November 11, 2006. Alleged Chhota Rajan aide Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya had been gunned down by a team from the D.N Nagar police station led by Police Inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi that night.
The report that Hindustan Times accessed typically describes the encounter as an act of ‘self defence’ and gives the 13 policemen a clean chit. The report said the aim was to “deter the gangster from causing danger to the lives of police personnel and members of public passing by”.
A magisterial inquiry later established that the encounter had been faked. Gupta was killed in cold blood and five persons, including ‘encounter specialist’ Pradeep Sharma, have been arrested for the murder.
Senior police inspector of Versova police station, V. N. Sonawane, who signed the report, defended himself. “Our papers are made on the basis of whatever the police team told us,” Sonawane said.
The report states that the encounter took place around 8.13 pm opposite Nana Nani Park on the busy Juhu-Versova Link Road. Yet, it does not mention a single independent witness to the encounter. The Versova police did not bother to record the statement of the driver of the autorickshaw in which Gupta had allegedly travelled to the spot.
“We did not get any independent witness,” Sonawane said when asked for reasons for this. “Anyway, the report was prepared by an investigating officer, though I was the signatory…and the investigation was later transferred to Oshiwara police station…”
The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the encounter, has managed to record statements of more than 50 independent witnesses three years after the incident. The report states that the police team had fired five rounds at an armed Gupta who did not pay heed to surrender. Though Gupta had fired two rounds from his .32 caliber ‘Made in Japan’ revolver, no passer by or policeman was hit.