CRPF seeks probe into jawan’s mistreatment
Police in Belagavi’s Examba village allegedly assaulted, handcuffed, and arrested the commando, Sachin Sunil Savant, on April 23.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 06:53 IST
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has written to Karnataka police chief Praveen Sood seeking an inquiry into the alleged manhandling, arrest, and chaining of one of its commandos on leave in Belagavi last week, two officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Police in Belagavi’s Examba village allegedly assaulted, handcuffed, and arrested the commando, Sachin Sunil Savant, on April 23. He is accused of violating Covid-19 lockdown norms and assaulting police officers. A video of the incident was posted on Twitter and provoked outrage. A photo purportedly also showed Savant chained outside a police station.
One of the two officials cited above said the trouble began after Savant was found without a mask. He was not wearing one since he was just outside his home, the official added.
Savant is a part of the CRPF’s Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit that specialises in guerrilla and jungle warfare especially in Maoist insurgency-affected areas. CoBRA commandoes are highly skilled and considered among the country’s best. Savant is part of CoBRA’s 207 Battalion that is deployed for anti-Maoist operations in Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.
In a letter to Sood on CRPF chief A P Maheshwari’s behalf, the paramilitary force’s additional director general, Sanjay Arora, said the “unpleasant situation” could have been avoided had the state police taken them into confidence before arresting Savant. HT has seen a copy of the letter.
Arora wrote Savant was cleaning his motorcycle in front of his house when the incident took place. He added Savant was “manhandled, ill-treated, paraded to the police station barefooted, kept in chains and handcuffs” by policemen on Covid-19 lockdown duty following a skirmish in Examba village.
Arora asked Sood to get the matter inquired and “provide justice to the jawan keeping in mind the gravity of the incident and its impact on the relationship between the two forces”.
“We have taken up the case with the state police chief of Karnataka. His [Savant] bail plea is coming before the court on Tuesday and the CRPF too shall be in court through its local officers. Thereafter, the case investigation shall be followed up to take it to the logical conclusion,” CRPF spokesman Moses Dhinakaran said.
Arora wrote the CRPF is a force “with high standards of discipline and it has an institutional mechanism for taking care of such situations”. He added the conduct of police personnel was not citizen-centric.
Savant has been put under suspension from his unit until the inquiry into the case is over.
Belgavi police superintendent Laxman Nimbargi said Savant got into an argument with two of their constables while they were on a patrol and saw his sitting outside a house with a group of around six people. “When those people saw our men, they ran away except for one [ Savant]. When questioned why he [Savant] is not inside during the lockdown, he said he was also a policeman. Our constables said the law of the land is same for the everyone and asked him to go inside and wear a mask... This lead to argument,” he said.
Nimbargi said Savant allegedly manhandled their constables and kicked one of them in his stomach. “We have released the entire video of the incident. Our men were assaulted. As per the law, action has been taken and case registered and he was produced in court. We have also sent report to his higher authorities.”
He cited the ordinance passed to deal with assaults on health workers and security personnel and said they have merely implemented the government orders.