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Was it road rage or police excess? MHA seeks report

According to a senior police officer, an accident between a Gramin Sewa Tempo and a police vehicle on Sunday evening triggered an argument between the driver and a policeman which later turned violent.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2019 23:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
home ministry,amit shah,gramin sewa tempo
Tension gripped Mukherjee Nagar when a Gramin Sewa vehicle driver attacked a policeman with a sword after an argument with a PCR personnel when his shared vehicle grazed past the police van. (Screengrab)

Three policemen were suspended and cross-FIRs registered on Monday after an incident of road rage a day earlier outside the Mukherjee Nagar police station escalated into a 45-year-old man attacking a group of policemen with a sword before they overpowered and assaulted him.

The fight involving the driver of a “Gramin Sewa” transport vehicle, his son and the police snowballed into a violent protest late on Sunday in which many policemen were allegedly beaten up with sticks by a mob that was enraged by charges that the police had kicked the Sikh driver’s turban while assaulting him.

The incident has triggered a political row over allegations of police excess in the national Capital, and the home ministry on Monday sought a report on the incident from Delhi Police.

In the two cases of violence that took place within a few hours outside the police station in north Delhi, eight policemen, the driver, and his 15-year-old son were injured, said Delhi Police spokesperson Madhur Verma.

The incident of road rage took place at around 6.30pm on Sunday, when the 45-year-old man and his minor son were driving their vehicle past the police station.

“The tempo hit a police van. An argument began when the driver of the police vehicle asked the driver of the vehicle to accompany him to the police station. The [tempo] driver responded by pulling out his sword and later attacking the policemen,” said Verma.

The tempo driver, however, alleged that a policeman pulled out a stick and threatened to kill him and his son.

Hindustan Times is withholding the identity of the father-son duo as the boy has been booked for assault and the law does not allow the identification of a minor accused of a crime.

A nearly six-minute video, which appeared to capture a large part of the confrontation, showed the driver arguing with a policeman with the sword in his hand.

As the policeman walked to the police station to seek help, the driver’s son could be seen persuading him to leave.

Seconds later, about a dozen policemen rushed out of the police station. Assistant sub-inspector Yograj Singh, who was in civil clothes, grabbed the driver from behind even as his son tried to disarm him. As some policemen began hitting the driver with sticks, he managed to get out of the ASI’s grip and began swinging the sword at him, striking his legs and head.

It was around this time that the driver’s son ran to his vehicle, drove it on the wrong side of the road to surprise the policemen by ramming them, “Our initial probe has suggested that the boy was trying to rescue his father,” said Verma.

According to the video, the boy and his father were overpowered and pinned down, beaten with sticks, kicked, and then dragged to the police station. The driver’s turban fell, and was picked up by the injured ASI to stop the bleeding from his own head.

The father-son duo was taken to the police station, where the two alleged they were thrashed again. The driver later showed red scars on his back as proof of the alleged beating.

In another video shot on Sunday night, an ACP-rank officer could be seen being chased by protesters and attacked after the episode.

The video clips were part of the police’s investigation into the incident and were the basis of the suspension of three policemen for “unprofessional behaviour”.

Two first information reports (FIRs), one against the father-son duo and the other against the policemen, have been registered and being investigated by the crime branch, which will look into the matter independently, Verma said.

Asked about the incident, Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik said: “Even in the discharge of normal duties or crowd control, if we come across excesses or professional misconduct, we take action”.

The videos of the incident led to chief ministers of Delhi and Punjab, Arvind Kejriwal and Amarinder Singh, expressing solidarity with the 45-year-old man.

Calling for an “impartial probe” into the incident, Kejriwal tweeted that “protectors of citizens can’t be allowed to turn into uncontrolled violent mobsters”. Protests over the incident continued to Monday night, forcing the police to deploy paramilitary personnel.

Minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said he spoke to Patnaik and asked him to take immediate action. “BJP delegation led by Shri @rpsinghkhalsa ji called on me today regarding the incident under Mukherjee Nagar Police Station in New Delhi, I spoke to CP Delhi, instructed for immediate action and to submit a detailed report,” Reddy tweeted.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have demanded a fair probe into the incident and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) sought dismissal of the officers.

First Published: Jun 17, 2019 18:58 IST