Exclusive: MP cops speak out on how they are being persecuted at RSS' behest
Around the time RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was denouncing the lumpen elements targeting hapless people under the guise of cow protection, eight Madhya Pradesh policemen were running scared of the fury unleashed by his organisation.
The crackdown on the eight policemen in Balaghat will go down as a black chapter in the history of Madhya Pradesh's police. The cops are absconding since 26 September, when their own force registered FIRs against them for daring to act against a hate-mongering local RSS leader.
Disgusted by the hounding of their comrades, several police officers said they were "losing confidence" in their own department.
The policemen, who include Additional SP Rajesh Sharma, had applied for anticipatory bail,only to see their plea rejected by a lower court in Balaghat.
Two of the eight policemen, who have been forced to go underground, shared their travails with Catch. Apart from fearing for their safety and jobs, they are "dejected by the hypocrisy of the political system and the apathy of our superiors".
They lamented that not a single senior police officer has contacted them, let alone assure them of justice. "No party, organisation or department is willing to support us. We have no hope. Nobody wants to speak against the RSS. We fear for our lives," said one of the officers.
Five FIRs in 24 hours
The cops' tribulations began on 25 September, when a team led by Ziaul Haq, in-charge of Baihar police station in Balaghat, arrested RSS pracharak Suresh Yadav for spreading hate messages against Muslims on WhatsApp.
As the news of Yadav's arrest spread, local BJP leaders and RSS activists surrounded Baihar police station and started to protest. Gudda Markam, the husband of Baihar Nagar Panchayat head Yashwanti, bailed out Yadav in no time, but Yadav's supporters refused to disperse.
"It was a crowd of around 600 people. They were raising communal slogans and were trying to barge into the police station. Probably, their intention was to assault the policemen who had acted against Suresh Yadav. I had to order a lathicharge as it was our duty to control the protestors," Baihar's Tehsildar Ajay Singh told Catch.
SHO Ziaul Haq and his team had to take shelter in one of the rooms of the police station as the crowd grew violent. Balaghat SP Asit Yadav arrived at the station at around 3 am, and soon head constable Khayal Singh Warkade was forced to register an FIR against eight of his own colleagues, including the ASP and the SHO on the complaint of the RSS leader. Serious charges, including attempt to murder, were slapped on them.
"Many people sympathise with us, but they are not is a position to help us. They refrain from contacting us on Facebook or Twitter and speak only on WhatsApp," said one of the underground officers.
Several civil officials and policemen, who witnessed the events that night, have testified that the crowd at Baihar police station had overwhelmed the police and the civil administration. The protesters even roughed up ASI Yogendra Chauhan, and vandalised the car of Sub Divisional Police Officer PS Mehra. The mob tried to break open the gates of the police station, but were beaten back.
Over the 24 hours after the cops were booked on the RSS leader's complaint, four more FIRs were lodged in connection with the incident. But so far action has only been taken on the FIRs against the cops.
Farce of unidentified assailants
One of the FIRs was filed against "unidentified" for attacking ASI Yogendra Chauhan. Farcically, nobody is willing to identify the attackers despite the fact that a large number of police and government officials were present at the scene.
Another FIR was lodged by Mehra's driver Jhanak Singh. But in this case too, the protestors who vandalised the SPDO's official vehicle are listed as "unidentified". Although, the car was attacked on the doorstep of the police station where many officials were present. The car was attacked as Jhanak Singh was bringing two doctors to conduct Yadav's medical examination.
Both these FIRs have since been transferred to a Special Investigation Team, but there has been little progress in the investigation. The SIT has not moved beyond recording the statements of the eyewitnesses.
Crackdown on cops
In contrast, action was promptly taken on the two FIRs lodged against the eight policemen. The other was registered on the basis of a complaint by the RSS leader's accomplice Swami Prasad Asati, who owns a medical store just outside Baihar police station.
"Suresh Yadav's medical examination was conducted twice. Two doctors from Baihar's health centre prepared his medical report on 25 September. Another report was issued by doctors at Balaghat district hospital the next morning. Both reports mention only slight bruises and swellings on Yadav's body. Yet we have been slapped with charges like attempt to murder," one of the absconding officers told Catch.
The officer alleged that an attempt was underway to create an "atmosphere against us on every front". He pointed out how Yadav's foot was plastered at Jamdar Hospital in Jabalpur although the two medical reports didn't mention a fracture of any kind. Is it just a coincidence that Jamdar Hospital is owned by Jitendra Jamdar, who has long been active in BJP and RSS circles?
Won't go to jail
One of the underground officers said he has never filed an FIR "without preliminary investigation" in his decade-long career. "The police does not have a culture of registering a case under sections corresponding to serious crimes just on the basis of a complaint," he said.
"We arrested Suresh Yadav only after the objectionable content was found on his cell phone. But all established norms were flouted in taking action against us. Eight police personnel were suspended without any investigation. Three home guards also faced the axe and the DIG were transferred. How can they book us for attempt to murder when Yadav's medical report doesn't indicate a serious assault?" the officer asked.
On the other hand, as the officer pointed out, no action has been taken on FIRs pertaining to attacks on ASI Chauhan and the SDPO's car. Nobody is even trying to identify the culprits in these instances. The accused cops insist that BJP leaders Arjun Jaiswal, Pramod Nema, Bhagat Netam and Surendra alias Guddu Markam were leading the mob that carried out both the attacks.
The suspended officers are prepared to stay underground for a few months, but they won't surrender "under any condition". "We don't want to be jailed for no fault of ours. We will approach the Supreme Court for bail if the high court rejects our petition," one of the officers said.