“YOU DON’T know who you have dared to touch. We can unseat chief ministers, even prime ministers. We can make or break governments. You are worthless. Just wait, if we fail to remove your uniforms, we will leave the Sangh.’’ This was how RSS activists allegedly threatened police officers on the night of September 26, when Sangh pracharak Suresh Yadav was arrested from the organisation’s office in Baihar town of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh for an “anti-Islam WhatsApp post”.
Today, the police officers involved in the arrest are on the run after the BJP government brought a slew of charges against them, including attempt to murder, robbery, trespass and criminal intimidation. On Friday, their family members submitted a three-page memorandum to the DGP and the IG, seeking justice and asking why the policemen were being hounded for “doing their duty fearlessly” — it also gives the police version of the incident, including the alleged threats they faced after the arrest.
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”Police officers are scared more of right-wing organisations than Naxals,’’ said the memorandum, which demanded that Yadav and his accomplices be booked for assaulting police officers on duty. Madhya Pradesh IG G Janardan told The Sunday Express that around 20 women, including wives of the accused police officers, met him and complained that their husbands were falsely implicated in the case. He said he had forwarded their memorandum to the SIT that is probing the incident. Yadav was released from a Jabalpur hospital two days ago.
The SIT was formed by the state government after the arrest, and the alleged assault of Yadav by police, which led to a number of officers being suspended, including additional SP Rajesh Sharma and the local station in-charge Zia-ul-Haque.
Besides, IG (Balaghat Range) D C Sagar and district SP Asit Yadav were transferred — Janardan took charge as the new IG on October 7. The memorandum follows a massive campaign on social media by the police force in Balaghat in support of their absconding colleagues. Pamphlets have also been distributed, highlighting the low morale in the force and including a mock law with various dos and don’ts to be followed while dealing with RSS functionaries.
The memorandum alleged that Yadav and his accomplices assaulted the police force, swore at them and tried to stop them from doing their duty. “About a 1,000-strong mob of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Gauraksha Samiti and BJP workers threatened to burn the police station and warned of riots. The policemen saved the station… but in return were accused of attempt to murder, robbery and trespassing, and rewarded with suspension,’’ it claimed.
The memorandum said that even courts have ruled that an “FIR should not be directly registered against government servants for a lapse while performing their duty”. It alleged that it was only after an FIR was registered against police for allegedly assaulting Yadav was the pracharak taken to a district hospital in Balaghat and from there to a Jabalpur hospital owned by a former RSS functionary who is now with the ruling BJP.
The memorandum quoted a similar incident in 2015 involving a constable in Ukwa and two Bajrang Dal activists. It alleged that the accomplices of the activists gheraoed the local police post, threatened the constable, misbehaved with his wife at his home and tore up an FIR that was registered over the incident.
When contacted, RSS’s Mahakaushal Prant Sanghchalak, Prashant Singh, said, “Maybe, something was said in the heat of the moment. An attempt is being made to project the incident as an RSS versus police clash, which is not the case. Some elements are politicising the case.’’
Singh, who is also an advocate, said the bail plea of two police officers involved in Yadav’s arrest has been rejected by a lower court. He said the RSS only protested against those police officers who “crossed the limit and used disproportionate force” against Yadav.
”Yadav did not create the WhatsApp post. Why did the police single him out? How did certain history-sheeters accompany the police and assault Yadav?’’ Singh said, referring to a group of Muslim youths from Baihar on whose complaint the FIR against Yadav was registered.