The Armymen did NOT ransack the Kolkata Police Station

And neither did the two officers illegally detained by the Kolkata Police misbehave with any woman.

Kolkata Korner: Sour Start to the New Year

The New Year started on a very sour note for Kolkata and Kolkatans. An ugly incident, involving army officers and high-handed cops marred what would have been the perfect start to 2007—a holiday (January 1, on occasion of Id-ul-Zuha) to nurse the 31st night hangovers and catch up on socializing.

Two army officers, the morning’s papers and news channels reported, had gone to a star hotel, misbehaved with a lady, got into a fight with the bouncers there, were picked up by the cops and, since they were abusive and threatening, were dumped in the lockup. Soon enough, two jeep-loads of officers and soldiers armed with SLRs swooped on the police station, ransacked it, freed the duo and went away.

That is what the police told the media, and that was what the media told its readers/viewers, often with a lot of spice added to it (Our holier than thou Media doing this? How shocking?- Ed). Subsequent events, however, proved the police claims to be false and, as of now, the cops are trying their best to keep away from the court of inquiry set up by the army to probe the incident. Proof enough that the cops have a lot to hide. But more of that later.

So what really happened? The Police said that the Armymen ransacked the Police station, beat up the cops on duty and even let nine hardened criminals escape from the lockup. But their story seems to have wide gaping holes in it already.

Coming back to the New Year’s eve incident, it has now been established that the cops’ version was far from the truth. The actual sequence of events, for the benefit of those who don’t really know (for, a large section of the media hasn’t bothered to follow up on this incident. ed- As usual the drive by media is not interested in following up on any stories it reports to its final logical conclusion), is like this: the senior among the two army officers (a Major and a Captain) who went to the party at the hotel got into some dispute with a woman; the bouncers intervened and tried to manhandle the officer, who fought back in self-defence. The cops were called, and as is their wont, slapped the officer and abused him verbally before hauling him away to the Park Street Police station. The Captain, who didn’t really know what had happened to his senior, launched a search that took him to the road outside the hotel where he was identified by the bouncers and the cops pounced on him as well and dragged him away by the collar to the thana. While he was being hauled off like a common criminal, the officer somehow managed to call up his unit from his mobile phone. And once in the thana, even though the two officers identified themselves many times, the cops, drunk on alcohol and power, threw them into the lockup.

The law says that no army man can be arrested by the cops and put in a lockup save for committing crimes like murder and rape. And if cops detain any army man, they’re duty bound to inform the military police and the local army authorities at once. The cops in this case were either ignorant of the law or, as is more likely the case, simply thought they could get away by violating it as they do every day.

Meanwhile, a few jawans in uniform, led by a lieutenant colonel and another officer, reached the thana and managed to convince the cops there that the detention of the two army officers in the lockup was illegal.

The cops ultimately relented and while the Major was coming out of the lockup, he spotted the cop who had slapped, manhandled and abused him earlier. Losing his cool (as any one who had been wronged would), he shouted at the cop. The jawans, on seeing their officer with bruises on his face and getting to know that it was the handiwork of the cops, were enraged and landed a few blows on the offending cops. But the lieutenant colonel intervened, pacified them, and sent them away with the two officers who had been freed from the lockup by the cops. The lieutenant colonel and the other officer stayed back at the thana to complete the formalities.

In the meantime, the cops, who felt insulted at having had to eat humble pie in their own thana, called up their seniors and together, or so the theory goes, they hatched a diabolic plan to portray the army officers and jawans as marauders and criminals who took the law in to their own hands. There’s reasonable ground to believe that the cops themselves ransacked their thana (Did they also let off the nine hardened criminals to make the staged crime scene look more authentic? That’s a crime which should cost them their jobs – Ed) and invited media persons later to pass off the stage-managed vandalism as having been committed by the army.

This account of the incident is not only what the army maintains, but also what an independent witness, who was similarly physically and verbally abused by the cops at Park Street and put in the lock up that night, has told the state human rights commission.

This was what was pretty much suspected by most people even when Media started reporting the incident in shrill tones with less than skin deep analysis. It is so very easy to take our drive by media for a ride that everyone from a local thanedar to moneyed NGO’s to Pervez Musharraf can do it anytime without much effort.

And there is no other constitutional mechanism to hold the corporate media to account.They abuse the constitutional guarantee of Freedom of Speech to do whatever they feel like and enjoy power without any kind of responsibilty. And ofcourse they rant and froth at the mouth like hell when someone does hold them to account.

p.s- thanks to setu Madhavan for pointing us to this above story, for staying with the story till the end even when the rest of us had in his own words got distracted with other breaking news stories like Nithari and ULFA.



Filed under India, Indian Military, Indian States, Law & Order, Liberal Extremists, Media, Neglected/Sidelined News

9 responses to “The Armymen did NOT ransack the Kolkata Police Station

  1. It’s surprising that the this hasn’t been followed up the the media. I haven’t heard or read anything in the media. And the less said about our police force the better. The guilty need to be punished. It’s time the government started implementing the police reforms.

  2. nice well researched article.

  3. Chandan

    Thanks for the incredible story! What’s going on with the police reforms?

  4. Setu Madhavan

    Writer’s Building (Senior Bureaucrats of West Bengal Government) is NOT happy at all with the way the Police handled the situation!

    In fact, after the babus staked their credibility and escalated the issue to PMO / PM level overnight, the kolkata babus were stunned, even grudgingly respectful of the cogent, articulate and thorough legal arguments presented by the Military authorities punching irrefutable holes in the police version and approach.

    Apparently the PMO is very unhappy that the IAS / IPS lobby in Kolkata prematurely escalated the incident to the bureaucrats within the PMO and got the PM to react in support of the Kolkata cops even when the cops, as it turns out, were in the wrong.

    It was not for nothing that the Chief Secretary (Home Secretary too) of West Bengal appeared so much more conciliatory, even admiring of the Army authorities the very next morning (”I should give the Army credit where it is due. It is best if they investigate. They are already moving much “faster” (the obvious comparison being with the Pandus). We have high regard for the Army”…etc.)

    If the pandus were out-pandu’ed by the Army jawans the night before in the ‘laat ghoosa’ department, then the babus were out-babu’ed by Army Officers the morning after in the babu’cracy, intelligence gathering and legal departments. The Army came through the (Kolkata bureaucrats – Army Authorities) meeting as the better prepared, informed and professional party. The Babus immediately agreed that the Army should drive the investigation going forward.

    The grandiose statements by the Police chief ( “My men did not confront the Army only to avoid a bloodbath otherwise we are more than capable to handle such people”, “I will move the courts to arrest these officers and put them back in custody and I will see this to its end”, “My officers will not go to the Army to depose we will get the Army Officers to depose for our investigation” ) in between his lobbying efforts to become Chief of CAB (Cricket association of Bengal) when this issue was still hanging fire, did not endear him to the babus who were themselves working overtime to contain the situation. It is rumoured within Writer’s Building that as soon as the Babus succeed in sweeping this incident under the carpet, and out of public imagination, the Kolkata Police chief would be eased out of his position – possibly as the CAB chief itself.

    That the Army’s court has already begun its work and started witness depositions, while the cops are yet to even send a written report to the Army, tells something about either party’s professionalism and discipline. The Army authorities, unmindful of the Neta / Babu / Pandu / Patrakar shenanigans, have made it very clear that they are determined to move full speed ahead with their investigation. Notwithstanding the go-slow wont-cooperate mode of the police, the Army approached the judiciary in quick time and the magistrate ordered the cops to depose before the Army court – inside the Army base – instead of the other way around!

    Despite allround pressure on the cops to honour the summons from the Army court the constables are mortified about visiting the Army cantonment / court and had been delaying it under one pretext or the other. Finally, the 2 offending cops – the same very 2 guys that also bore the biggest brunt of the Madras regiment fury – appeared before the Army court two days ago. Apparently the babus have engaged in a lot of behind the scenes diplomacy with the Army authorities (the Army is furious at the lies planted in the media, and the inability of the cops to corroborate their stories – eve teasing / drunkenness of Army personnel – with any credible witnesses, FIRs or crime scene reports) to let issue die down. The Army has assured timely punitive measures to its offending personnel for any proven offences – including eve teasing, vandalism – provided witness depositions are made available. With the ‘eve teased’ woman having vanished without a trace, and not a single attendee at the new Years bash at the hotel corroborating the eve teasing story the cops are truly embarrased. Further atleast 3 neutral witnesses have come forward disputing the police version of the vandalism story! The only recourse therefore available to the cops to keep the lid from being blown of their misdeeds and subsequent coverup was to not depose themselves in the Army court – thereby keeping the court in perpetual limbo. From their end the Army also filed FIRs against the police for illegally arresting and manhandling Army officers in clear violation of the Army Act passed by Parliament – and made their intentions clear of taking the issue up with the highest court of the land, if required, to prosecute justice and punish the guilty policemen.

    Their initial posturing in the media notwithstanding, both the bureaucrats and police realized just how strong a legal ground the Army is in. Further the cogent arguments made by the Judge Advocate General of the Army to the Magistrate in Kolkata convinced the Babus and police more than ever before that the Army authorities can more than match them in brains just as they did with ‘laat ghoosa’ the other day. Indications are that the bureaucrats are trying the best to let the Army authorities let bygones be bygones, and to kindly let the cops off the hook (drop the FIRs against the constables), and for public consumption just give a verbal administrative ‘dispeasure’ to the Armymen that thrashed the guilty cops. The babus ofcourse would get the media to stay off the case so the honor and dignity of Kolkata cops’, and more importantly of Netas (PM, Raksha Mantri and External Affairs Mantri that needlessly spoke in support of the pandu chowkidars) can be redeemed.

    Credit must be given to the babus for the damage control mode they kickstarted after realizing that the Army guys – in characteristic fashion – had their act together with lightning speed, while the pandus took everyone – including Netas – for a ride with their stories, not to speak of unprofessionalism (Police officer was missing from Police station during the incident leaving Pandus chowkidaars to freely distribute ‘laat ghoosa’ to handle situations, frivolous charges against the Army Officers, absolutely no clue about laws that clearly govern handling situations involving Military personnel, needless manhandling of the Army Officers and mocking at them in custody (”Bolta hain Army Major hain”, or something to that effect in Bengali, as told by neutral witnesses present at the police station at the time).

    The print / electronic media (except ‘Outlook’) has suddenly gone silent about this issue – with no follow up investigative report about the woman, hotel, police, or the case itself. This is an “out of sight out of public mind” formula devised by patrakar-babu combine so that after the initial news cycles – (”Indisciplined Army hit innocent lachar pandus”) that got the ‘favorable’ police version out – the issue falls out of public domain and imagination. A carefully thought out, and so far successful, exit strategy for the cops – as aam junta’s attention is diverted to Nithari murders and ULFA. This way, the Police ‘high handedness’ and ‘gross negligence’ that actually caused the incident to spin out of control does not come into public knowledge – and if / when it does the news is stale.

    Good babus are supposed to sacrifice themselves if required to keep the H&D (honor and dignity) of Netas intact. Babus now have to figure out a way to untangle the pugdis and lungis of Netas that got all knotted up by the fury of the blows from Madras Regiment that landed resoundingly on the heads of Kolkata pandus.

    For the sake of our beloved Netas I wish the babus all the best in this nobel endeavor.

    Setu Madhavan.

  5. Setu Madhavan

    One of my original articles on the Army Vs. Kolkata cops incident that throws some deeper questions as well…

    It is indeed regrettable that the top Netas – Pradhan Mantriji and Raksha Mantriji included – have their Pugdis and Lungis tied into a collective knot over the “gross indiscipline” of the Army, relying solely on the version of the Kolkata cops.

    The media, as always, have declared the Army officers GUILTY as charged. They have also pre-empted the need to have a victim, or even her statement – and have gone ahead and declared the Army jawans GUILTY anyway. So the Neta-Babu-Patrakar-Pandu Chowkidaar axis plays Prosecutor, Judge, Jury and Executioner.

    After everyone from the PM, the defence minister, External Affairs minister, and the PMO, rushed to personally call and assure the WB Chief Minister that the GUILTY Army officers and jawans would be given exemplary punishment, the cops’ story has begun to unravel.

    By the way, when was the last time anyone heard of the PM personally rushing to inquire about common men and women who are tortured, even killed, by police high handedness?

    Turns out that Park Street Cops were working overtime on New Years Eve to nab random members of the public, slapping them and locking them up on trumped up charges of drunkenness, eve teasing or hooliganism and extorting money from them. One couple has also registered a complaint with the NHRC to the effect (the husband was picked up by the park Street Cops as he and his wife were crossing the road. When he asked to know his offence, he was slapped by the cop, who took him to his superior who declared, ‘You are a drunkard’, slapped him some more, and ordered that he be locked up.) Just so happened that the police snared the wrong fish – the Army Officers – and promptly ended up getting paid in their own coin – by being placed at the receiving end of a (well deserved) beating.

    The media immediately jumped on the “casting aspersions” bandwagon and sullied the Army. As the truth slowly begins to emerge – and the usual shenanigans of Indian cops wear thin – we see that there is no woman that complained about being teased or groped.

    Four bouncers of this hotel thrashed an Army Major because he demanded his meal for a valid coupon he held. They then put him in a taxi and brought him to Park Street cops. Hafta happy cops who have good ‘relations’ with this hotel dutifully locked up the officer – inspite of him informing them of his identity. ‘No one tells us what we are supposed to do here’, so saying the cops beat up the Major before locking him. This is a clear violation of the law – but pandu chowkidars obviously have no clue about the Army Act passed by the Parliament. Soon a captain reaches the police station to reason with the Pandus to free his superior officer. ‘Dont tell us what we are supposed to do here’ so saying they lock up the Captain as well and for good measure book him for guess what? ‘Crossing the road at the wrong place’! Wow, that is so cute. Isnt it?

    Unfortunately for the cops, the Captain had called his Commanding Officer on his cell before he was locked up. The Commanding Officer (CO) of the 3 Madras regiment (Madras regiment is the oldest Regiment in the Indian Army – a small trivia for you – inconsequential to the case) comes with soldiers of his unit – soldiers that have fought with, and under the leadership of, these officers for 5 years in Siachen and Kashmir and have lost some of their men there – witness the badly beaten Major and Captain. The CO, a Lt. Colonel, gets the cop to open the lockup, and as the Major steps out the jawans get to see the real extent of the beatings handed to their officer. To make matters worse the cop speaks rough and insults the Major in the presence of his jawans. The 3 Madras jawans known to give their life to rescue their own from the enemey, fly into blind rage and all hell breaks loose. Their CO, the Lt Colonel restores order and disperses them, and himself waits for senior Police Officers to arrive. The cops immediately call the press, and the print and electronic media is full of stories about ‘Yet another case of gross indiscipline in the Army’.

    The Prime Minister, Defence Minister and External Affairs minister express their unhappiness at the ‘indiscipline of the GUILTY Army officers’ and call the West Bengal CM to offer full support! The Army refuses to hand over their own. The police chief is angry but when made to read and understand the letter of the law by the Army authorities, comes around. Now the cops end up looking like fools, because they obviously never went to the scene of the alleged eve teasing to investigate, or even bothered to take the statement of the ‘victim’ – they simply went by the words of the bouncers of Park Hotel.

    The cops are now looking desperately for ‘witnesses’, and not being able to produce any, who do they come up with? The 4 bouncers themselves of course!!! Now they – the bouncers – claim that the 4 of them were beaten bad by the Major! So I guess these 4 were the eves that the Major teased. The cops now claim that they of course never knew that these were army officers – else they would have followed the law! The truth will slowly emerge and certainly the situation ended up much worse than it should have been. Neither party should be blamed or exonerated till the final picture is out. What stuns me is the alacrity with which the PM, defence minister and External affairs Minister of this country reacted to the ‘shameful guilt of army officers’ without so much as bothering to ascertain basic facts.

    Why is it that so many cases of police excesses, and even some cases of army excesses against general civilian population in Kashmir / North East, does not elicit the same swift reaction from these folks? But touch their corrupt babus or pandus and Netas behave like a cat on a hot tin roof. Of the press’ eagerness to besmirch the Armed forces, the lesser said the better. A few quick questions for the Neta-babu-Patrakar-Pandu axis…

    1. The Army officers indicted in Tehelka scam are serving prison time – after being court martialed by the Army. What about the bureacrats involved? Any guesses? Of course absolutely nothing happens to them.

    2. The army officer accused in the Kashmir molestation case has been tried by the army, punished and discharged from service. What about the cop – the SHO – who was also involved? You guessed right. Even an FIR has not been filed. So much for the indiscipline of the Army and the efficiency of the morally upright cops / neta / babu axis.

    3. Why do Kolkata citizens complain that when ever riotous situations erupt in Kolkata the brave cops suddenly become incommunicado – and dont take any phone calls? Because when required to muster courage and discipline they do exactly what they did when confronted by jawans of 3 Madras Regiment – hide under their desks. Finally to control rioting mobs Neta / Babus requisition the ‘indisciplined’ Army and the jawans face up to the marauding mobs and bring things under control.

    4. Where is the PMO and PM when widows of Kargil martyrs go running from pillar to post begging for the Gas stations that a grateful nation promised 8 years ago? Some of the widows have had to go on hunger strike, others threatened suicide. Of course the ‘disciplined’ bureacrats and ethical politicians hide behind various fig leaves like ‘land acquisition problems’ and ‘procedural delays’. When it is time for these ‘indisciplined and GUILTY’ army officers and Jawans to lay down their lives there is never any ‘procedural delay’.

    5. Why doesn’t the PMO, PM and Raksha Mantri ever commiserate with, and get so agitated over, long pending legitimate grievances of Armed Forces personnel regarding pay, pension, equipment, housing etc.?

    Did you hear of the PM and PMO’s displeasure at the Army chief’s refusal to unilaterally withdraw Indian troops from Siachen as demanded by Pakistan as a “Confidence building meausure”? As a last resort the Indian Army chief requested the Netas – Defence Minister and PM – to bear down on Pakistan to jointly certify / delienate on maps the Indian positions prior to getting Indian soldiers to stand down. Neither the Indian PM, nor the Pakistani dictator (“Ataturk” wannabe and infamous Kargil architect) are happy with the Indian Army. Long story short, the army chief’s insistence on the map has rained on the PM’s expected “solution” to the Kashmir issue in addition to deferring / cancelling his proposed trip to Pakistan. For his efforts the Army Chief has incurred the displeasure of the External Affairs Mantri Mahodayji, and an informal gag on holding press conferences.

    This is what the Neta / Babu nexus is upto. Of the police and trigger happy rent-a-cause Patrakar the lesser said the better.

    By the way, did the cops lock KPS Gill up and beat him even after he confessed to groping / misbehaving with a woman?

    Just a little crumb for thought – Now that the Chowkidaar-Neta-Babu axis have been educated on the provisions of the Army, Navy and Airforce Acts that disallow Pandu chowkidaar to arrest an Army Major, Lt. Colonel or General (except on charges of Rape, Murder or culpable homicide), it wont be long before they work in tandem to amend these provisions through an Act of Parliament. Should that take long, pandu chowkidaars could now trump up charges of Rape, Murder, Culpable homicide against defence personnel including Senior Officers and promptly lock them up.

    It is sad that when foreign Armies like the US Army, Canadian Army and Australian Army are sending their Army officers and soldiers to be trained in specialised warfare Schools of the Indian Army, fellow Indians – Pradhan Mantri Mahodayji, Raksha Mantri Mahodayji and External Affairs Mantri Mahodayji included – publicly berate Army Officers and Jawans before even waiting for the facts to emerge.

    The Aam Janta’s blind support for the police in any skirmish between Police and the Armed Forces (as evidenced by letters and comments in the blogosphere and print media) may seem surprising, confounding, even frustrating at first glance. However the unwritten “slave charter” that governs the one-way relationship between Pandu chowkidaar and “pulis se soshit peedit” Public can put things in perspective. In a subservience that mirrors slave Tom’s (“Uncle Tom’s cabin”) reverence for his brutal white masters of slavery era America, the Indian public invariably forget and forgive the periodic brutality handed them by their Pandu chowkidaars – Bhagalpur blindings, fake encounter killings, rapes, custodial deaths, routine merciless beatings, the occassional urine therapy / golden shower / watersports (kind courtesy of Orissa Police), forced incest between mother and son (mission accomplished by Rajasthan Police circa 1996) and Systematic breaking of bones (“Emergency” era gift to the people from Kerala Police) to name just a few from this eminent collection.

    However, come time for these very police brutes to receive their just deserts at the hands of the Military (as in the case of the Kolkata Police, or in case of the thrashing administered to Kerala police in Thevara police station, Kochi, by Naval Officers incensed over the beating, arrest, and locking up of a fellow Naval Officer over a trumped up petty traffic offense by a Kerala police constable – “So you are a Naval Officer? Let me teach you a lesson” – in 1992) the “pulis se peedit soshit laachar” Aam Janta, like slave Uncle Tom, invariably stand by their tormentor-in-chief – Pandu chowkidaar. Never the Army.

    Slave Tom considered it his spiritual duty to serve his master (subservience to the earthly master as a prelude, almost a rite of passage, to serving the heavenly master). Right or wrong, my slave master is always right.

    The Indian Public considers it democracy. Plain and simple. Right or wrong, between the Armed Forces and Police, my Pandu Chowkidaar is always right. Never the Armed Forces.

    For all of Aam Janta’s fawning obsequiousness, how does the Neta-Babu-Patrakar-Pandu nexus regard the common man? Exactly how the white masters regarded slave Uncle Tom and his ilk: “Bigger the fool, better the slave.”

    Jai Hind

    Setu Madhavan

  6. sumit bhandari

    this is shocking incident, police has no credibility left to be believed by general public. how can we accept poorly trained policemen to beat battle heartened army officer for a fault which is not his.

  7. Satish

    Wow, who wouldn’t like this as a movie script. Let me tell you, I was in the hotel where it happened and I saw it with my own eyes. Whatever was published in the newspapers was not only told by the police to the media but also the public in and around the hotel who saw what happened were interviewed by differenat channels therefore printing the truth. How tragic is it? It’s a shame. Not only that same incident happened in Jammu & Kashmir, where a sub-inspector was severly beaten up by a major and his so called army jawans who acted not less than ‘gundas’. They were stopped by the policeman from drinking alcohol in a religious place i.e. mansar lake. Major abused the sub-inspector of being a 2nd class officer and him being a 1st class. How tragic.

    Kindly dont go by what is written in this stupid article. Know the truth and help in spreading it all over the country.

  8. subin

    The last piece of article, by Mr. Satish, was nothing more than a crap…if he was present at the scene then why did not he volunteered as a witness when his so called police was running to find a witness. The article by Setu Madhavan is true to the last word.

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