By Vidushi Kala | Pune, MH
At round 9 pm on Friday, June 9th, a gang of eight men on Senapati Bapat Road, Pune, brutally attacked another man. Concerned citizens in the area started recording the incident on video, and repeatedly calling 100 (Police helpline) a few minutes after, but the line was busy. Finally, a call was placed to Pune Police Control Room at 9:12 pm. Two young female witnesses (names redacted) informed the Control Room of the brawl outside their premises, requesting police officers be sent to the spot. Once the men realised they are on camera, they began abusing witnesses and allegedly threatening to kill them before dispersing on 2-wheelers.
Police officers did not arrive for 30 mins after the call to Control Room. Another call was placed to the Control Room requesting them to urgently send officers to the spot. Police finally arrived at 9:45 pm, over half an hour after placing the call to Control Room. Officers Ajay Shirkhe and Rohit Kattey gathered conclusive evidence of the incident and requested the complainant and witnesses move to Pandavnagar Police Chowki to file a First Information Report.
The witnesses arrived at the chowki around 10 pm, and showed the video evidence of the man being brutally attacked, while Indus Dictum reporter Ankur Borwankar arrived at the police chowki. Sub-Inspector Narayan Palampalle, after examining the video, allegedly promised to file an FIR, directing officer Dutta Chauhan to record witness statements. Chauhan filled out an “Occurrence Report” and asked the complainants to sign it, when the reporter pointed out that an Occurrence Report is not a First Information Report. He advised the complainant not to sign the Occurrence Report, and suggested that the complainant should insist that the Sub Inspector file an FIR.
On being questioned, S.I. Palampalle allegedly became suddenly hostile and belligerent, bluntly refusing to file an FIR. The ID reporter then started recording Palampalle’s reason for refusal to file an FIR on video. The Sub-Inspector repeatedly insisted that the Occurrence Report is an FIR. He then ordered one of his junior officers, Sachin Gaikwad, to snatch the camera-phone from the reporter and detain him.
Witnesses say the junior officer assaulted the ID reporter and tried to drag him forcefully to a holding room. After witnesses intervened and informed the officers that camera recording in this case is lawful, he allegedly threatened to charge the reporter with obstruction of discharging duty, and took the reporter’s contact details and home address.
The video of Pune Police assaulting the reporter is below:
The reporter furnished all the details asked and complied with the officer’s instructions, immediately after which police threw the witnesses and reporter out of the Chowki premises around 11 pm.
Witnesses then arrived with the reporter at Chaturshringi Police Station around 11.15 pm to register the complaint. They requested the Assistant Inspector on duty to register an FIR but the officers rudely resisted. Initially, they turned a deaf ear towards the witness’ testimony and started misbehaving with the ID reporter. After a series of heated exchanges they finally agreed to register the FIR.
At the time of statements being recorded, a series of unnecessary questions were asked to delay the procedure. The complainants claim that officers were unhelpful and grossly altered the statements, outrightly refusing to include certain parts of the testimony. All attempts were made to dissuade the witnesses from giving their statements. The witnesses, however, endured the harassment and were determined to file the FIR.
Police officers refused to include in the statement that Pandavnagar Police had misbehaved with the witnesses and assaulted the reporter. They also refused to mention an incident that occurred the week before, when 5 to 6 men had attempted to break and enter into the house of the concerned women through the balcony and windows, for which they would have to charge section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (assault with attempt to outrage the modesty of a woman). After repeated requests, they finally agreed to include a single line stating, “the witnesses initially visited Pandavnagar Chowki and then Chaturshringi Police Station,” but did not include the incidents of misbehaviour and assault by Pandavnagar Police.
The complainant and witnesses were made to wait for almost two more hours after taking down the statement, to procure a copy of the FIR. Finally, at around 4 am, a copy of the FIR was handed over to the complainants.
The accused have been charged with section 506 (criminal intimidation) and section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) under the Indian Penal Code.
The author, Vidushi Kala, is a Senior Editor at Indus Dictum. Her work focuses on public policy and legal reform.
Tweet at Vidushi: @kala_masala
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