Two separate police complaints were registered,one by the traffic police and the other by mediapersons,against Army officers and their colleagues for allegedly manhandling cops,mediapersons and residents after they were held for traffic violation at Tilak Chowk on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile,the Amy has ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the incident.
According to the Army,the traffic police abused and manhandled the Army officers even after they agreed to pay fine for traffic violation. In the complaint lodged by police naik Nitesh Vinayakrao Tapke (31),attached to Vishrambag traffic division,police have booked Captain V Advait,Lieutenant A B Pandit,Arjun Sood and about 40 other Army men under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly),147 (rioting),353 (causing disturbance in government work),332 (causing hurt to public servant on duty),452 (assault or wrongful restraint),594 (intentional insult) of the IPC and other sections of Bombay Police Act.
Captain Advait and Lieutenant Pandit,both Young Officers (YOs) are enrolled for a course at the College of Military Engineering (CME). Police naik Tapke mentioned in his FIR that he was on duty at the Tilak Chowk along with his colleagues. Around 7.30 pm,lady traffic constable Burud stopped Captain Advait and Lieutenant Pandit at Tilak Chowk as they were riding a bike (MH 12 EJ 1336) in the no-entry zone. The Army officers allegedly got angry as the traffic police wanted to take action against them for violation of traffic rules. The Army men allegedly called their force and went on a rampage,beating the cops and local citizens at the spot. They also allegedly barged into Sambhaji police chowky at Tilak Chowk,broke the table glasses,argued with police officers and used abusive language.
Meanwhile,in another complaint lodged by Sachin Bhagwant Hanchate,a cameraman with regional news channel,police booked the Army men under Sections 395 (dacoity),323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and other sections of IPC. Hanchate mentioned in his FIR that after covering the election related function at Congress Bhawan,he came to Tilak Chowk along with a reporter around 8.45 pm to cover the news of the brawl. However,the Army men allegedly threatened and thrashed him and other mediapersons and forcibly snatched the cassette in his video camera.
Four deputy commissioners of police – Dnyaneshwar Phadtare,Sanjay Jadhav,Vishwas Pandhare and Makrand Ranade – along with other senior police officers came to the spot to control the situation. A team of military police was also pressed into action.
Investigation officer,senior police inspector A A Sankude of Vishrambag police station where the two FIRs were registered,said two military police officials Murali G and Girish Narayanan recorded the statements of four policemen,including two lady constables who were allegedly hurt by the Army men. They also took the copies of two FIRs registered against Army men. Sankude said military police would also be taking statements of the media persons who have complained against the Army men.
Pune police team will also be recording the statements of the alleged erring Army men in this case. Police have got numbers of 19 vehicles driven by Army personnel during the incident. They would be submitting the investigation report at the local court,while the military police would be submitting their investigation report in the Army court.
Meanwhile,a press release issued by army said that court of inquiry has been ordered for investigating the incident.
Brigadier S P Navathe,deputy commandant,CME,said,”The Court of Inquiry has been constituted with Colonel Damle of the Faculty of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering of CME as the presiding officer. We are in the process of investigating further. We also met DCP Ranade. The police officers have been cooperative,but we are trying to get the case transferred to the Army.” The Inquiry can be expected to yield some result in about 20 days. If the suspects are found prime facie guilty,the summary of evidence can result in the convening authority taking disciplinary action on them.
As per police records,on August 28,2011,Captain Abhishek Agarwal,who was then attached to the CME,and his colleagues had allegedly entered into a brawl with a security guard and residents at Comfort Zone,a residential complex in Balewadi. Sanjay Balwadkar,a resident of Comfort Zone,had lodged the complaint in the case,alleging that the Army officer got angry because the security guard at the residential complex had asked him to register his name in the entry book. The Army officer had also registered a cross complaint against the security guard and residents of Comfort Zone for manhandling him and his colleagues.
Journalists union writes to Antony
The Pune Union of Working Journalists wrote a letter to Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday to condemn the attack by Army men on media representatives covering the brawl between YOs and police. The letter says the YOs confiscated a television journalist’s crucial footage of various news stories. PUWJ has demanded immediate action against Army officers involved.
Captain V Advait with Lt A B Pandit on the pillion,was riding his motorcycle to the market and passed through Sambhaji Bridge (Lakdipul),Since the bridge was not open to tow wheelers traffic,(of which the YO’s were unaware due to no prominent signposting) they were stopped at the end of the bridge by a lady traffic constable at around 7.30 pm,asked to park the bike to a side and pay the required fine,to which they agreed.
With the bike parked aside,as they introduced themselves as Army Officers,the lady constable took the keys while a second male constable started abusing Capt Advait,roughing and manhandling him,stating that since he was once roughed up for traveling without helmet in Army area,he would now get back . The episode happened between 7.30 pm and 8 pm.
Meanwhile,other police personnel started converging as the location. The officers informed their course mates regarding this incident. Senior instructors of the course were also informed of the incident. The officers’ course mates arrived at about 8.10 pm and went inside the police station. Realising that the constable was still aggressive and abusive,the officers also had an exchange of words with the constable. This happened at about 8.20 pm.
Senior police officers arrived at about 8.40 pm and within a span of a few minutes the military police (CMP) also arrived. Four of the instructors arrived at the scene at about 9 pm and took control of the situation by about 9.30 pm. The officers were told to vacate the area to which they complied.
Meanwhile,the local police and media had gathered outside the police station. The media was trying to get info and clicking photos to which the officers objected. The media and locals started heckling and obstructing them while the police and CMP were trying to disperse the officers. The officers were dispersed by around 10 pm.
(From press release issued by press information bureau (Defence Wing)