Surat Police suspended and arrested police constable Ghanshyam Ahir for allegedly assaulting a woman bank clerk — and pushing an assistant bank manager — reportedly after the latter refused to print the constable’s relative’s passbook. The action followed a call from the office of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Surat Police Commissioner RB Brahmbhatt, after videos of the incident captured on a CCTV camera, tagging her, went viral.
A non-cognizable offence was registered and an FIR later charged the constable under IPC sections for trespassing, causing hurt and provoking breach of peace and section three of the Epidemic Diseases Act for not wearing masks.
Amidst the covid-19 pandemic, we, bankers have been workin in business as usual mode to ensure that customers are able to access their money and basic economic activity but such incidents tore us apart. Shame on the people for whom we “TheBankers” doing our duty.1/n@FinMinIndia pic.twitter.com/df91j4DWoa
— Shivani (@shi_vaanii) June 23, 2020
The National Commission for Women (NCW) took suo motu cognisance of the video and wrote to the director general of police (DGP) seeking immediate investigation and strict action against the guilty. In a statement, the NCW said it condemned the “alleged brutality on a female banker who was doing her job” and reiterated its stand “that every woman is entitled to a life of dignity and safety at the workplace.”
Police sources said that the incident took place on June 22 at 4 pm, when only two employees were present at a nationalised bank’s branch in Saroli area in Surat.
Two persons — including the constable — dressed in plain clothes and not wearing masks, entered the bank premises and had a heated exchange with Assistant Manager Harshad Tiwari, over the constable’s uncle having returned from the bank without getting his passbook printed for three days in a row. Tiwari, who is also the complainant in the case at Punagam police station, stated that abusive language was used and the clerk was thrashed.
Tiwari said, “All other staffers were on leave. Clerk Suman Kumari and I were present at the bank office on Monday afternoon. The man, who had shown me his police identity card, used abusive language. He had not put on a mask on his face. We told him to behave properly, yet he continued to abuse. Seeing such rude behavior, Suman started taking a video on her mobile phone and he slapped her. She fell down and the assault caused a fracture on Suman’s back. Doctors have advised her bed rest.”
Tiwari had immediately informed Punagam police about the incident. The assistant manager and the clerk reached the police station and lodged a complaint against Ahir, who is posted at Sarthana police station. Punagam police inspector, VU Gadaria said, “We had registered a non-cognizable offence on Monday and detained Ahir. Later, we added IPC sections to the complaint and arrested him on Tuesday evening. He has been questioned and the investigation is on. He has also been medically examined at New Civil Hospital.”
Sitharaman took to Twitter and said, “Will be closely following the matter. Wish to assure that the safety of all members of staff in bank is of importance for us. Amid challenges, banks are extending all services to our people. Nothing should threaten their safety and dignity (sic).”
My office is being informed that the Commissioner of Police visited @canarabank’s Saroli branch and assured staff of full cooperation; the accused police constable is placed under suspension. @CP_SuratCity @PIB_India @DarshanaJardosh
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) June 24, 2020
“He (Brahmbhatt) has assured us that he will visit the branch and assure the staff of their safety. Also, he assured that the accused constable shall be suspended immediately (sic),” she said in her tweet
Brahmbhatt told The Indian Express, “We received a call from the personal secretary of Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and assured them that all possible steps will be taken against the accused cop. We have suspended him from the job. We also met the bank employees and assured them of safety.”
Ahir also put out a video on social media, where he can be heard saying, “My uncle went to the bank thrice for getting the passbook printed, but bank authorities denied it, saying the machine was not working. The employees were not giving him a proper reply. I went to the bank and showed my identity card at 4.15 pm on Monday and told them to print the passbook. I was told that working hours are over and that they would not print the passbook. They have made a CCTV video viral in an attempt to defame me (sic).”
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