Letters to the Commissioners of Police
We tried to seek appointment with the Police, particularly with Mr. Ajinkya Bobade, an investigating officer, Mr. SPS Yadav, Commissioner of Police, and anyone of the team members who could talk to us to give their versions. While Mr. Bobade talked to us amicably but said he was busy, we could not even get across the bureaucratic barrier even to talk to other police officials. Without Bobade’s permission other people would not even talk. We therefore decided to approach Mr. Yadav at his residence. Sentry at the gate told us that he was inside and customarily enquired about our identities and purpose of the meeting. After talking to some one in the residence, he said that Yadav was not home and we should approach the next day (Monday) in his office. We wanted to talk on telephone but he did not allow us to. We had kept several telephonic messages to seek his interview but in vain.
While we were still trying to seek interviews with the Police Officials, collect other facts and had not even discussed our finding, at least two papers, viz., Sunday Hiavada and Navabharat Mahanagar had published news items insinuating motives to the fact Finding Team and even indicating links between it and the Islamic terrorist organizations. Both the reports cited the intelligence sources and were identical in their contents. It was clear that the Police had taken offence of the civil rights organizations intervening into the issue and decided to act aggressively leaving all decencies to the wind. Navbharat Mahanagar of June 5, while reported Shri R. R. Patil commenting adversely about the Human Rights Activists. The comments ran approximately as follows: “Human Rights Activists try to protect criminals. Police hands are tied because of them. It is understandable when they intervene in the cases of petty criminals but it is not proper when they do so in the cases of terrorists.” One wondered without there being any context of Human Rights activists’ intervention in the terrorists activity or possibility of some such in the current episode (the constitution of fact finding team happened only after June 5, 2006), what provoked the Home Minister, generally known for his mild manners and pro-people demeanors, to issue such a statement. One could reasonably surmise that the local Police made him do so in order to fortify their case. The Police attitude got eventually exposed when Mr. SSP Yadav, Commissioner of Police rushed a letter by hand to the convener of the team- Dr. Suresh Khairnar questioning the credentials of the team members and forestalling the possibility of meeting in the ‘national and public interests’ in response to a formal request by the Committee for granting an interview after having failed to meet him several times before. The letter of the Committee dated June 12, 2006 is attached here as Annexure 5 and the immediate response to it from CP, Nagpur is attached as Annexure 6. The CP’s hostile response stunned the members because never before had they experienced such a blatantly intimidating response from a senior police officer. The Committee discussed the matter and decided to politely dispel his misunderstanding and reiterate its request for an interview. The said letter is attached as Annexure 7.
The Fact Finding Team held a Press Conference giving out its preliminary finding on June 15, 2006. The report was carried by some papers including the Times of India in Mumbai. The next day, the Police Commissioner again issued a public statement not only rubbishing the findings of the Team but also questioning the credentials of the team members and insinuating that the team was acting for ‘some one’. It was unprecedented in the history of the civil rights movement in the country that a responsible police officer had openly and venomously come out with his anti-civil rights attitude. His statement was carried by Times of India and Indian Express in their Mumbai edition of June 17, among others. Some papers known for their communal leanings were emboldened to carry this canard further by publishing their views in the form of views and going so far as writing editorials. Tarun Bharat, Nagpur was particularly notable for its canard against the Committee..
Justice Kolse Patil who had headed the Team had written a letter to Shri R. R. Patil, refereeing to the Police Commissioner’s statement in the newspapers and stressed the demand for judicial enquiry into the entire episode. The Team also issued a press statement in response to the Police Commissioner’s statement. We place these statements as Annexure 8 and 9 respectively.
The local Tarun Bharat had almost carried a spirited campaign against the Fact Finding Team. It published an interesting news item titled “The objective of the Fact Finding Committee is to spread hatred for the Police” on June 16, claiming to be a charge of some Dalit Adim Jamat Sangharsh Sena. The convener of its state committee (obviously it must have been a multi state body) Prof Ashok Kamble claimed that “whenever police fight the terrorists the entire Dalit, Adivasi, Hindu, Muslim communities are unitedly behind the police and they would continue to be so in future”, and that if the police published the information on some of its members, the truth will come out that they are the supporters of the Maoist organization. The Committee with its limited resources attempted to know where such an unheard of organization or such a Prof Ashok Kamble existed but in vain. Interestingly, it mirrored the opinion of the Police
A letter of Justice Kolse Patil to Mr. R. R. Patil, Home Minister in response to the statement of the Police Commissioner published in the Times of India and Indian Express
Press Statement issued by the Committee in response to the statement of the Police Commissioner published in the Times of India and Indian Express.
The statement of the Commissioner of Police, Nagpur, which appeared in the media on 17th June, 2006 smacks arrogance, impropriety and defamatory insinuations. It relates to an interim report released by a joint fact finding committee constituted under the leadership of Mr. B. G. Kolshe Patil, former judge of the Bombay High Court. The other constituent organizations were: People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Nagpur; Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Mumbai; Dharm Nirpeksh Nagrik Munch, Nagpur; Andra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Hyderabad; Civil Liberty Monitoring Committee (CLMC), Hyderabad; Indian Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), and Bahujan Sangarsh Samiti, Nagpur. The report expressed serious doubt about the veracity of the police claim that there was an encounter at the RSS headquarters at Nagpur.
The newspaper reports say that the police chief stated that the members of the committee had doubtful credentials and seemed that they were working for someone. We challenge Mr. Commissioner to disclose the identity of this “someone” in the absence of which he will be legally proceeded against for defamation. We are citizens of this country and require no other credentials than this to meet the rulers of this country including the prime minister and president of India. The Commissioner further states that he refused to meet the members of the committee because the matters concerned the national security. The committee reminds Mr. Shiv Pratap Singh that India is not a piece of property which he privately owned. India belongs to more than one billion people and India’s security is their security and they will take care of it independent of Mr. Singh if the need arise.
Now as citizens of India, we ask the credentials of Mr. Singh because his utterances are politically loaded and unbecoming of a police officer employed and paid by the Indian state. Does he subscribe to the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh? Does he have secret political affiliations to Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal? We tell Mr. Singh to be careful when he makes public statements.
(Dr. Suresh Khairnar)
Fact Finding Meeting
June 18, 2006