New Delhi: The remarks made by city police chief BS Bassi on the attack on JNU students, teachers and journalists in and outside Patiala House Court premises appear to be coming from a “muscle man of the ruling party, not from a police officer who is holding such a high rank”, feel former top cops. They describe the attack as “unfortunate” and “shameful”.
On Tuesday, the Delhi Police commissioner termed the attack as a “minor” incident, saying it was the fallout of an emotive issue. On Monday, around 40 lawyers led by BJP leader OP Sharma had beaten up journalists, JNU students and teachers and a CPI(M) activist ahead of the hearing of the sedition case registered against Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar in connection with an event at the university last week.
The top cop did not stop here.
He went on record to say that “those who are criticising the police and terming it intolerant because of its stern handling of the JNU students’ issue are enemies of the country”. Under mounting criticism, he later said the alleged negligence of police was being investigated and the guilty will face legal action. He also said two FIRs were registered on Monday night in connection with the attack. But when Firstpost visited Tilak Marg police station seeking copies of the FIRs, he was refused access to the FIR copies. A police officer said, “You cannot get it because you (the journalists) are not the complainant in the case.”
SR Darapuri, retired inspector general of police from Uttar Pradesh, said Bassi’s attitude appears to be “partisan” and that he is “toeing the line of his political bosses”. “It was extremely shameful and unbecoming that an officer of the rank of commissioner of police tried to defend what had happened in the court complex and giving a political statement. He is wholly siding with the ruling political party at the Centre; rather he is acting as a muscle man of the BJP. All his actions and statements in the past few months show his partisan attitude,” said the former top cop while talking to Firstpost.
He added that the Delhi Police “gave the goons a free hand which is highly condemnable”. “Once they (the police) knew there was the possibility of confrontation in court, they should have made more elaborate arrangement. It should be investigated whether they failed to do it or avoided doing it on purpose. It was the duty of the policemen present there to intervene and stop the scuffle that took place. It appears to be a part of a conspiracy in which the city police is a party,” he alleged.
As per the law, he added, even a common citizen is expected to intervene if there is a threat to life and property of anyone. But here, the men in uniform who were present in the court premises acted like mute spectators and allowed all this to take place. “It is shameful and highly unbecoming of a police force,” he said.
The arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya, according to Darapuri, on sedition charges without an enquiry and verifying evidence was “mindless and malicious” in nature. “There is a clear directive of the Supreme Court that the arrest should be made in a case that prescribes an imprisonment of seven years or more after due investigation and collecting sufficient and substantial evidence against the accused. The police is just toeing the line of the political bosses,” he added.
Former director-general of police, UP, Shri Ram Arun also felt that the approach of the police was unfortunate.
“It does not matter whether the attack on journalists, students and teachers was light or major. It should be acted upon and the culprits should be brought to book. The law should take its own course. It is the responsibility of the police to enforce the law. Bassi’s statement is purely political and unfortunate for the entire police force in the country,” he said.
Former Delhi Police assistant commissioner of police BM Chopra also described the statements made by the commissioner as political. “Instead of assuring that action would be taken against those who are found guilty, he made a political statement and justified the act to please his bosses and secure a plum post after retirement,” he added.
His relation with the Delhi government has also not been cordial. The government has time and again termed him as the “unofficial spokesperson” of the BJP.
The IPS officer, who is retiring on 29 February, may also join politics and has given an indication in this regard.
“If I got a chance to serve the nation after retirement, I will definitely do it. If I do not get it then I will enjoy myself,” he had said during the annual press conference of the Delhi Police on 4 January, when asked about his plans after retirement.
When asked which party he was going to join, Bassi smiled and said “it will be known after 29 February”.