Gau rakshaks, or not, there are now allegations of police mishandling in the Barun Kashyap case. The 24-year-old creative director, who had made it to news headlines in August for his alleged harassment at the hands of gau rakshaks for carrying a leather bag, was arrested by the Mumbai police on Tuesday.
Why the arrest?
According to a TOI report, the police took him into custody, for giving false information to the police and on social media, thus, trying to create a rift between communities. But according to AAP activist Preeti Sharma Menon, he has been forced to change his statement by a policeman named Daya Nayak.
According to reports, the police has been searching for Kashyap since 2 October. They arrested him in Chembur from a car that belonged to AAP activist Preeti Sharma Menon, who Kashyap had reached out to for legal help. "I took him to advocate Mihir Desai and advocate Vijay Hiremath and they agreed to take his case. This morning he came to me again and I was getting him dropped to the lawyers in my car and with my driver Roshan Pashilkar. The police swept down on them in Chembur and arrested both Barun and my driver," Menon alleged in a post released on Aam Aadmi Party Mumbai's official page on the social media website, Facebook, on Tuesday.
The AAP post alleges that a controversial cop Daya Nayak forced Kashyap to change his statement on 30 September, and what he had written on his Facebook page was the true account of the incident. It also features a three-page statement, allegedly written by Kashyap (but without any signature).
"Daya Nayak has filed a false case against Barun Kashyap and arrested him. The 24-year-old was threatened by Daya Nayak, assistant commissioner of police and senior police inspector of Amboli police station on September 30 to change (h)is original statement made on 20 August, 2016. He was threatened, he feared for his life and so he signed on anything that Daya Nayak said,” Menon claimed in the post.
The same statement has Kashyap stating, "I am afraid for my life... I am disturbed that false case has been filed against me with terrible accusation like starting a riot. I am just an ordinary working class boy... I never dreamed that the police would be more scary than any goonda on the road... Officer Daya Nayak forced me to sign and the false complaint against me."
The first incident: How it happened
Kashyap had given a detailed account of him bullied by a rickshaw driver and his three friends while travelling to work from his home in Andheri. The post was later taken down, but Firstpost has a copy of it. Here's how it happened:
As reported in Mid Day, and later on Firstpost, on the morning of 19 August, Kashyap took an auto on his way to work. The auto-driver, in Kashyap's words, "was curious" about his long hair and pierced nose." The driver asked him about his native place, but soon lost interest and instead focused on the leather back that Barun was carrying with him. "He turned around and saw my leather bag. Then he leaned to touched my bag and concluded it was made of cow leather," Barun said in his Facebook post.
While Kashyap tried to refute the claim and said the bag was made of camel hide, the driver remained unconvinced. Soon, much to Barun's horror, the auto-driver stopped at a small temple despite his repeated protests. Three men, sporting tilaks on their forehead approached the auto and were quickly apprised of the situation by the driver. They poked in their heads to check the material of the bag for themselves. "When I was busy protesting, one of the guys came to the other side of the auto and started checking my bag," reads Barun's narrration of his ordeal which received hundreds of reactions from outraged people.
The men then asked Barun his name, which he told them. Apparently, the men concluded that Barun was a Brahmin and therefore spared him. But the incident in itself is not half as scary as the smugness with which the auto-driver walked away. Not only did he give Kashyap his number, but also a warning: "'Abhi bach gaye ho, agali bar nahin bachoge. (You’ve escaped this time. You won’t be this lucky the next time.)'," said a report in Mid Day.
Kashyap in remand till 8 October
According to a tweet by Menon, Barun has been remanded to police custody till 8 October. The post also says that Kashyap has threatened to go on a hunger strike in jail against these false allegations.
Barun remanded to police custody till October 8. He has said he will go on hunger strike in jail against these false allegations
— Preeti Sharma Menon (@PreetiSMenon) October 5, 2016
It's hard to tell who is right, however, in a report published in Hindustan Times, Arun Chavan, assistant commissioner of police of DN Nagar division under whom the probe was initiated, denied the allegations against Daya Nayak. “He (Kashyap) is the accused, and he can make any kind of allegations,” he told the newspaper, adding, "We were trying to locate Barun Kashyap, and found his location at Chembur. He was sitting in a car. So we inquired with the driver who told us that Preeti Sharma Menon had asked him to drop Barun. We took both to the police station. Barun was arrested, while the driver was allowed to go after we recorded his statement.”