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Nothing to write home about here

If one is critical of the state police, what does one say about prosecutors who fantastically claimed that these activists, being labelled as urban naxals, were actually forming an “anti-fascist” front to defeat the government?

mumbai Updated: Sep 05, 2018 01:39 IST
Sujata Anandan
Sujata Anandan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai police,Maharashtra police
I remember one of my friends in the force telling me, “Even if a Naxalite sneezes in Gadchiroli, we get to hear it at our headquarters in south Bombay within minutes.” (HT FILE)

The Maharashtra police was always something to be proud of; with the Mumbai police described as second only to Scotland Yard; even those on the outer reaches of the state were something to write home about. I remember one of my friends in the force telling me, “Even if a Naxalite sneezes in Gadchiroli, we get to hear it at our headquarters in south Bombay within minutes.”

Then there was the case of the exemplary officer Dhanraj Vanjari, who later became better known for his role in warning his superiors about the possibility of attacks on Mumbai (which happened on 26/11) and the top cops royally ignored all the signs of imminent danger. Before that, however, he was sent on a promotion posting to Gadchiroli. One day, he was startled to discover he had to defend the government – over himself. A member of parliament had put the government on the mat in the Rajya Sabha over why Gadchiroli was being used as a punishment posting for certain policemen who might be inconvenient to the authorities. It was a starred question and Vanjari had to type out his own credentials and send them to the government so that he could be held up as a shining example of an officer who had been posted to Gadchiroli on promotion and not punishment. It was the then chief minister Sharad Pawar’s policy to post both bureaucrats and policemen to Gadchiroli on attractive terms — including huge salary hikes — to encourage them to interact with the innocent villagers under pressure from Maoists and wean them away from a life of violence.

That is how cops could boast that they could hear Naxals sneezing in the jungles all the way to Mumbai. But sadly, both, the exemplary policy and the ability of the police to keep their finger pressed down on the pulse of the Maoists, now lies in tatters. It was more saddening to note senior IPS officers seeking legitimacy not through their policing skills but through trying to influence the media at a press conference to justify their lack of progress in the case relating to activists, lawyers and writers they accuse of involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence of January 1 this year.

The so-called letter of conspiracy they seem to have recovered from the computer of one of the arrested activists, sharing details of a plot to assassinate Narendra Modi in a “Rajiv Gandhi-type of killing”, actually comes from a Facebook post of the man who lodged an FIR against the Bhima Koregaon violence and is a known left and Dalit baiter. That letter just does not hold water. Even if one were to ignore the fact that no conspirator would leave an unencrypted letter like that lying around in his computer, the fact that even 90 days later the letter is not part of the chargesheet against these activists quite gives the game away, even without considering that such a conspiracy against a high-level target is not left to a state police to investigate. A conspiracy of this nature is immediately escalated to higher investigating agencies, which has clearly not happened.

That press conference brought about a rap on the knuckles of the Maharashtra police by the Bombay high court for violating the laws in a matter that was sub judice. This really has to be their nadir and it is obvious why, where and who this is coming from and I am doubly saddened that while one chief minister (Sharad Pawar) had attempted to instil an element of pride in his police force over their handling of the Naxal issue in the jungles, another is rubbing their noses in the dirt just to settle political scores with ideological rivals in the safer environs of the city.

But if one is critical of the state police, what does one say about prosecutors who fantastically claimed that these activists, being labelled as urban naxals, were actually forming an “anti-fascist” front to defeat the government? Who briefed these officers? Was it a Freudian slip or an admission on the part of the current dispensation that the government we have today is fascist and not democratic? Or was it a Pavlovian reaction by various officers connected to the government who have been conditioned not to use their minds and react in a particular fashion?

Whatever it may be, it is a sad fall for a state which has always led by example. Who would want to follow this example?

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 01:39 IST