Updated: April 26, 2022 7:56:11 am
LOK SABHA Speaker Om Birla has sought details from the Maharashtra government within 24 hours on the arrest of independent MP Navneet Rana in Mumbai, after receiving a letter from the Amravati lawmaker that she had been subjected to “inhuman treatment” by the police following her “illegal” arrest two days ago.
According to sources, the details of the incident were sought by the Speaker through the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
In her letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker, the MP accused Mumbai Police of not providing her drinking water in custody while allegedly citing her “neechi zaat” (lower caste), and abusing her on the basis of caste.
While there was no official response to the allegations, a senior IPS officer from Mumbai Police told The Indian Express that CCTV footage at the Khar station, where Rana was lodged after her arrest, and statements from other inmates in the lock-up “will prove that her allegations are not true”. Rana was moved to the Byculla women’s prison on Sunday evening.
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The officer also said the police had not received any communication from the Union Home Ministry on Rana’s arrest till late in the evening.
Rana and her husband Ravi Rana, who is an independent MLA, were arrested on Saturday from their Mumbai residence after declaring that they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s home in Bandra. The move was apparently aimed at building pressure on the Shiv Sena-led state government on the issue of loudspeakers being used at places of worship.
The two were subsequently booked in two FIRs lodged on charges of sedition, promoting enmity and assaulting a public servant to prevent discharge of duty.
In her letter to the Speaker, Rana, who represents a reserved SC constituency, wrote: “I made several and repeated demands for drinking water throughout the night, however no drinking water was provided to me throughout the night. To my shock and disbelief, the police staff present told me that I belong to Schedule Caste and hence they will not give me water in the same glass. I was told ‘Neechi Zaat ke logon ko paani nahi dete’. Thus, I was directly abused on the basis of my caste and it is only for this reason that no drinking water was provided.”
She wrote: “Further, when I wanted to use the bathroom in the night, the police staff present paid no heed to my demands. I was again abused in the most filthy language and several abuses on the ground that I belong to Schedule Caste were hurled at me. I was told that we don’t let people from Neechi Zaat Scheduled Castes use our bathrooms.”
Incidentally, in June 2021, the Bombay High Court had cancelled Navneet’s caste certificate while describing her claim as “fraudulent”. Her appeal against the order is pending in the Supreme Court.
In her letter to the Speaker, Rana wrote: “I emphatically state that I have reason to believe that the police action against me and my husband is only on the directions of the Chief Minister Shri Uddhav Thackeray. Under the circumstances, I am forwarding this representation to you as the guardian and custodian of the dignity of the Lok Sabha and its members to kindly look into the matter.”
Rana also sought action against senior officers for her arrest. “I, hereby, demand the strictest action to be taken against the Commissioner, Mumbai Police, concerned Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), concerned Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and the police staff,” she wrote.
Asked about the allegations, the IPS officer said: “In order to ensure such allegations can be countered, there were CCTV cameras in the police station where she could be seen. We will also be recording statements of other inmates, who were also given water along with her, to prove that her allegations are not true.”
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