By Dr Olav Albuquerque
Why are more and more policemen making the news for the wrong reasons? A few answers…
THE Goa Police was in the news recently – for all the wrong reasons. A constable was arrested for stalking and outraging the modesty of a woman by using filthy language in the presence of her husband. There was an earlier case where an IGP Sunil Garg allegedly demanded Rs11 lakhs to register an FIR in a cheating case. The complainant, Munnalal Halwai, negotiated and reduced the amount to Rs5.5 lakhs in cash, a part of which was paid within the Police Headquarters in Panjim. The then chief minister, Laxmikant Parsekar, said a probe was on and he would be suspended if found guilty.
Till date, Halwai continues to battle in the Supreme Court. He has spent crores of rupees on lawyers’ fees when, ironically, it would have been cheaper for him to have paid the bribe and got the FIR registered.
When top police officers like Garg are accused of taking bribes, this sends a wrong message down the line so that low-level Police Sub-Inspectors (PSIs) or even their superiors, the Police Inspectors either refuse to register FIRs in property cheating cases or simple assaults or register cognizable crimes as non-cognizable cases, which means they do not need to investigate or charge-sheet the offenders. Strangely, some of these notorious police officers have bagged the Chief Minister’s Medal for meritorious services rendered despite complaints against them.
SO, when a gullible Goan visits a police station to report a crime, he will be harassed with irrelevant questions and fooled into accepting a chit of paper with a registration number written on it. This happened to this writer who is an advocate when his mobile phone was stolen. Despite clearly stating the phone was stolen and not misplaced, the PI in-charge of Maina-Curtorim police station, Ravindra Dessai, kept on insisting the phone was misplaced and refused to record an FIR. Phoning his superior, Dy SP Santosh Dessai proved of little use until this writer phoned the IGP Paramaditya, IPS, who immediately phoned his subordinates and within a few seconds, Ravindra Dessai was forced to record an FIR.
When my aged 95-year-old aunt was tricked into signing a bogus Sale Deed by a young woman in 2016, the ASI, Chandrakant Velip, kept giving bogus excuses not to record an FIR, thereby fooling a high court advocate. He kept lying saying this cheating case was a civil dispute or that his brother had expired or that his son was ailing. Exasperated, I approached the then SP (South) Chandan Choudhary (IPS), who directed her deputy, Dinraj Govekar, to verify and record an FIR which was typed by a head constable whose English was poor.
THE same PI Gurudas Gawade who was now forced to record an FIR told this writer to shut up while the head constable with atrocious English typed an equally atrocious FIR with innumerable mistakes. But that was not the end of my ordeal. This ASI Chandrakant Velip with the sweetest tongue imaginable kept lying to this writer that he had written to the Joint Mamlatdar—III when he had never done so. Exasperated, I complained to his top boss, Arvind Gawas, who had succeeded Chandan Choudhary (IPS) as Superintendent of Police. Unlike Ravindran Dessai who bagged the Chief Minister’s Medal, SP Arvind Gawas, definitely deserved his the CM’s medal and President’s gold medal for his distinguished service record.
This was not the end of my ordeal. ASI Chandrakant Velip filed a totally bogus A-summary closure report, lying that there was no evidence to charge-sheet the accused when in fact a bogus sale deed and bogus affidavit which contradicted the sale deed stared him in the face. His top boss, Raju Raut Dessai, refused to show this writer the A-summary closure report stating it was sub-judice. When asked what was the meaning of sub-judice, he replied when a constable was on the way to the court with the file, it turned sub-judice.
An outstanding magistrate Ashwani Khandolkar heard my arguments and rejected the A-summary closure report. The file was returned to the Maina-Curtorim police station where it gathered dust for several months, until I visited the police station and threatened these policemen with contempt of court for disrespecting the judiciary that my complaint was resurrected.
BASICS OF CRIME?
BUT that was not the end of my nightmare. PI Gurudas Kadam who had taken charge was affable and intelligent but his subordinate, PSI Mahesh Velip was not. With ASI Chandrakant Velip standing next to him, he did not seem to understand the basics of the crime. When I phoned him after 14 days, the only question he asked me was : “Why don’t you file a civil suit? Should I report to the court that you have filed a false complaint ?”
Exasperated, I requested PI Gurudas Kadam to give me another IO. He said he was understaffed but after pleading, he assigned PSI Tejas Kumar Naik to investigate. This PSI was transferred during the Covid pandemic for assaulting a pillion rider who was on the roads during curfew. But he did do his job by adding two or three pages to the bogus A-summary closure report filed by ASI Chandrakant Velip.
The charge-sheet was never filed in court for several months until thoroughly exasperated, I approached the Dy SP Shivendu Bhushan, a young man who had done his BE from the IIT in Kharagpur. As expected, there was a world of difference between the intelligence quotient of this young police officer and his seniors who either did not understand how the crime was committed or pretended not to do so.
After the charge-sheet was filed, I had another horrendous experience of the file being shunted to four different assistant public prosecutors. Two of them were very good but one in particular, though competent, refused to accept phone calls from this writer, insisting he would only communicate on WhatsApp. He refused to divulge his email id and also insisted he was busy round-the-clock 24 x 7, complaining that he did not have the time to interact with this complainant, apart from just one meeting of 30 minutes.
SO there you are. Crimes like the rape and murder of Scarlett Keeling end in acquittal because of the gross negligence of the Goa Police, some of whom are either corrupt or if honest, incompetent. And after they have done their work, some of the APPs may not take much of an interest in your case.