Retd IPS SR Darapuri: The police I served and the police I faced
India is now a police state with indiscriminate and arbitrary arrests and detention. What police say is the law. Facts no longer matter, says retired senior police officer SR Darapuri
I am a 1972 batch IPS officer. After retirement as IG (Police) in 2003, I have been active on issues of Human Rights, Dalit Rights, RTI, Right to Food and Education etc. I am the Vice-President of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Uttar Pradesh. I am also ex- Advisor to National Commission for Scheduled Castes. I opposed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) because I believe they were discriminatory and against the Indian Constitution. I had decided to peacefully oppose the CAA in Lucknow on 19 December 2019.
On the morning of December 19 last year, when I walked out of my house to go to the park, I saw a policeman standing outside the gate. He told me that his duty was to keep an eye on me at my home. Soon thereafter a police vehicle arrived with several policemen. After two hours or so, the police jeep left but policemen remained till 5 pm. I was virtually under house arrest without any reason.
I put a facebook post on my detention at home and later in the afternoon, when I learnt that there had been violence at the protest site, I updated the post and condemned the violence.
The next morning on December 20, shortly before Noon, Circle Officer Ghazipur Deepak Kumar Singh and Inspector Vijay Singh arrived with several policemen and asked me to accompany them to the Ghazipur police station. I asked him if he was arresting me. He replied that I was to be taken to the police station. I thought this was preventive arrest under 151 C.R.P.C. and I would be set free in the evening.
At the police station, I was not allowed to meet or talk to anyone. When my wife called, she was told I was not there. She panicked and sent WhatsApp messages to senior police officers in Lucknow and put up a facebook post saying that men in uniform had taken me away but my whereabouts were not known.
Around 5.30 pm I was taken to Hazratganj Police Station by jeep. I asked Inspector Dhirendra Pratap whether I was under arrest. He teasingly said, “Yes, by now 39 have been arrested and you are the 40th.”
Around 8 pm a sub- inspector informed that I was to be produced before a Remand Magistrate. I demanded then that I be allowed to call my lawyer. But permission to call my lawyer was denied and I was taken to the Remand Magistrate’s residence in River Bank Colony.
I was asked to wait outside in the police jeep but I forcibly barged in before the Remand Magistrate and informed him that on the day of the violence the previous day, I was under illegal house arrest from 7 am to 5 pm and I had not gone out of my house. I was picked up from home at 11.45 am and was being produced before him after 8 pm.
Asked by the Remand Magistrate about the charge against me, the SI replied that I was charged under Section 120 B IPC for criminal conspiracy. After listening to both of us, the magistrate refused to grant jail remand, rebuked the SI and said he would report him for taking punitive action against innocent people. He began writing on a sheet of paper and after some time I was asked to wait outside. Soon thereafter Inspector Hazratganj, Dhirendra Pratap Kushwaha arrived and went inside to speak to the magistrate. He was there for a long time but apparently did not succeed in persuading the magistrate to remand me to jail.
It was around midnight when we returned to Hazratganj PS. To my shock and horror, in the case diary they recorded that the Remand Magistrate was not available at home due to illhealth and hence the jail remand could not be obtained. The case diary also falsely mentioned that I was arrested from a park in the metropolitan area at 5.40 pm. It was a chilly night. Lucknow gets bitterly cold in December. But when I asked for a blanket, policemen told me that they were under instructions of Lucknow SSP Kalanidhi Naithani and Inspector Hazratganj that no blanket be given to me.
I however picked up the mobile handset of the Munshi when he had gone out and called home, asking my son to bring me a jacket, a blanket and a cap. Around 2 am my son arrived and confided that he had come to the PS in daytime when police had threatened to arrest him also.
On December 21, I was detained at Hazratganj PS till 5.30 pm and taken to jail in a prison van. I was presented before a Remand magistrate around 7 pm. I repeated what I had told the previous Magistrate. But this gentleman paid no heed and signed on my 14-day jail remand.
He condescendingly told me, “You yourself has served in the police department. Surely you would be aware that this is how the system works”. I reached the jail barrack at around 09.30 pm.
I had not had my breakfast when the police picked me up from home on December 20 but I was given no food by the police till I arrived in jail. In the jail too I was denied any food on the night of December 21.
The investigating sub- inspector, Hazratganj, did not record my statement u/s 161 CRPC at any stage but wrote it out on his own and is thus guilty of forgery.
I had not stepped out of my house on December 19, 2019 but have still been charged in case No. 600/2019 of Hazratganj police station u/s 147/148/ 149/152/307/323/504/506/332/188/435/ 436 / 120B, Criminal Law Amendment Act-7 dated 19/12/19. My name did not figure in the FIR but even then I was falsely implicated, arrested and sent to jail.
Since I was totally innocent and the police failed to produce any evidence against me in the court, I was released on bail on 7/1/2020. Now a charge sheet has been filed in the court in which I have been described as the Master Mind of the conspiracy to instigate violence.
If police can harass, engage in excesses and illegalities with a person who has been in the Indian Police Service for 32 years, you can imagine what they can do to an ordinary man.