NEARLY TWO months after she came under fire for allegedly boasting about “thrashing Dalits and taking out the frustration of the Atrocities Act on them” and was shunted to a side posting, IPS officer Bhagyashree Navtake was given an executive posting last month.
Navtake was posted as a Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) in Sindhudurg district even as the inquiry ordered against her in light of the incident is yet to be concluded. Senior officers of Maharashtra police, however, hinted that the remarks she is purportedly seen making in the video were taken out of context and may have been made to placate members of the Maratha community.
In the video clip a woman purported to be Navtake is seen seated on a chair with a group of men from the Maratha community swarming the place. The woman is heard saying she had “thrashed” 21 Dalits who filed complaints under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act at her police stations. She is also heard saying that she has filed cases under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC against Muslims, ostensibly so that they are unable to procure bail easily.
A senior IPS officer confirmed to The Indian Express that Navtake had been posted as the SDPO Kankavali Sub Division in Sindhudurg police mid-February. Soon after the controversial video had emerged on December 4, Navtake had been transferred from Majalgaon Sub Division in Beed to Aurangabad intelligence department, considered to be a side posting. The state had also sought an inquiry against her and the Inspector General (Nashik range) Cherring Dorje had been tasked with checking the veracity of the video and claims made in it. An officer said, “The inquiry is still going on but is nearing completion. The report should be out soon.”
A senior officer said that they were investigating if what she said was taken out of context. “At times to defuse a situation, one has to pretend to be favouring a particular section of people to get their confidence. We are checking if she was trying to assuage the feelings of a particular group of people and just said these things to string them along,” the officer told The Indian Express.
The officer added, “The main thing is that the officer should not be in a position to influence the probe. Hence, even though she was transferred back from the side posting, she was sent to another district.” Repeated calls and messages to IG Dorje went unanswered.
In the five-minute video clip that had surfaced on several social media platforms in the first week of December, 2018, the woman purported to be Navtake is seen dressed in a black shirt and blue jeans. Addressing a Maratha man who was arrested she said, “How much were you hit? You were just hit two three times on the back… You have not seen how we hit Dalits… we tie their hands and legs and thrash them…”
Navtake did not respond to repeated calls and messages.