Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Police is seemingly struggling to contain the dissent within its ranks in the aftermath of the death of Apple employee Vivek Tiwari, who was shot by a constable on 28 September near Lucknow's Gomti Nagar police station. On Friday, constables of all Lucknow police stations wore black armbands to protest the arrest of their colleague Prashant Kumar. Prashant, who was arrested on 30 September along with his colleague Sandeep Kumar, chased and shot Tiwari. Prashant claimed Tiwari attempted to run them over with his car.
However, a second FIR filed by Tiwari’s wife—based on the account of his female colleague who was in the car when he was shot—accused the constables of cold-blooded murder. Several images showing constables protesting did the rounds on social media, much to the embarrassment of the Uttar Pradesh Police.
On Thursday, Uttar Pradesh police chief OP Singh claimed there was no dissatisfaction among the constables and everything within the department was fine. But in stark contrast to Singh's claim, constables across the state declared 5 October as a 'Black Day'.
Devarshi Yadav, a constable posted in Lucknow, said a message asking all police constables to observe a 'Black Day' was circulated on WhatsApp. “I received the message yesterday. There is nothing wrong with it. One of our colleagues has been falsely sent to jail and none of the seniors are speaking up for us. I could not participate in the protest as I was assigned for a security rehearsal in view of President Ram Nath Kovind's visit to Lucknow,” he said. Yadav believes the department should stand behind Prashant and provide him with legal assistance.
Another constable, speaking on the condition of anonymity, held the senior police officers responsible for this ripple of discontent. “A constable first serves his station house officer and circle officer. He or she tries to follow every order and is then terminated from service and sent to jail. This is not done,” he said. The constable added that Prashant was lucky that his wife worked in the same department, else the family would struggle.
Lucknow senior superintendent of police Kalanidhi Naithani suspended three constables—Jitendra Kumar Verma from Gudamba police station, Sumit Kumar from Aliganj police station and Gaurav Chauhdhary from the Naka police station—for sharing the pictures of protest on social media. The district police chief also shunted SHOs of three police stations whose personnel were identified by the department as observing the protest.
The Director General of Police (DGP) headquarters in Lucknow issued a statement saying stringent action would be taken against the suspended officers—but only after inquiry and identification—as the pictures on social media may be forged. No one in a position of authority at HQ chose to comment on the issue and the public relations officer even walked away.
Inspector General Amitabh Thakur posted on Facebook that it is the right of every citizen to help their colleague. “I believe that helping a colleague financially or emotionally is right of every citizen. Stopping anyone (from doing so) in the name of discipline is neither constitutionally right, nor morally. If someone is a criminal, it does not mean that their friends cannot stand with the accused person,” Thakur said in his post.
However, former Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh is unimpressed with these developments. “Siding with an accused, even if he happens to be a policeman, is neither morally, nor legally correct,” he said. He added that senior police officers would see that no harm is done to their subordinates. “I was also falsely implicated in three murder cases during my service and faced one after retirement. No one crowdfunded for me or the other 40 officers implicated along with me. No one wore a black band to protest for us,” Singh said. He added that he pawned his wife’s jewellery to fight the case.
“I won the case because truth has a flair of coming out,” the former DGP said. He also said unionism has no place in the police department and those indulging or inciting such activities should face strict action. On Friday evening, the Uttar Pradesh Police transferred Gomti Nagar Inspector Devi Prasad Tiwari to the Crime Branch, the first action against a senior policeman in the murder case Earlier Friday, Uttar Pradesh Police dismissed Avinash Pathak and Brajendra Yadav from Mirzapur and Varanasi for inciting fellow policemen and gathering monetary support for the accused.
The author is Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com
Updated Date: Oct 05, 2018 21:57 PM