Bengaluru: The CRPF has taken up with the Karnataka Police the “unpleasant” case of alleged manhandling and handcuffing of its CoBRA commando by policemen and has sent a team to follow-up on the matter, officials said on Monday.
The Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) specializes in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare.
The force has written a letter to Karnataka Director General of Police (DGP) Praveen Sood stating that the “unpleasant situation could have been avoided had the state police taken the CRPF hierarchy into confidence before making the arrest” of the jawan on April 23 in Belagavi district.”
The CRPF is mulling to file “a counter FIR against the atrocious action of the police” against the jawan, a senior officer of the paramilitary force told PTI.
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The CRPF letter said that commando Sachin Savant was “manhandled, ill-treated, paraded to the police station barefooted, kept in chains and handcuffs” by police personnel on COVID-19 lockdown duty in Examba village of the district.
In a video, shot from a distance by a local on a mobile phone, it is seen the mufti wearing commando and two policemen getting into an altercation, and subsequently, throwing blows at each other.
The CoBRA commando was on leave and at his home town. As per the CRPF, the state police informed them that Savant was outside his home to wash his bike and “was not wearing a mask”, and police personnel on duty asked him why he was not wearing a face mask.
The police report said the commando “started the altercation” with the beat constable and another policeman accompanying him and “assaulted” them.
CRPF officials countered the version saying the jawan informed the policemen that he was not wearing the mask as he was just outside his home.
The incident has led to resentment among officials of the paramilitary force and they have demanded a fair investigation in the case and sought intervention from the CRPF brass.
“We have taken up the case with the state police chief of Karnataka. His (Savant) bail plea is coming before the court on Tuesday and the CRPF too shall be in court through its local officers. Thereafter, case investigation shall be followed up to take it to the logical conclusion,” CRPF spokesperson Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Moses Dhinakaran said.
The CRPF has stated in the letter to the DGP that after scrutiny of the video “it is apparent that the conduct of police personnel was not citizen-centric.”
The letter, written by a special director general-rank officer on the behest of CRPF Chief A P Maheshwari, requested the DGP to get the matter inquired and “provide justice to the jawan keeping the gravity of the incident and its impact on the relationship between the two forces.”
It said the CRPF is a force “with high standards of discipline and it has the institutional mechanism for taking care of such situations.”
The commando told the police he was also a policeman like them and knew his responsibilities, and then he agreed to go back inside his house and ended the argument. But then the police personnel pushed him and rained ‘lathi’ on him leading to assault between the two sides, CRPF officials alleged.
The police report said the commando has been arrested under sections of the IPC and Epidemic Diseases Act and is at present in judicial custody at the local Sadalga police station.
A photograph, now viral on social media and also available with CRPF authorities, shows Savant handcuffed and squatting in a place that was claimed to be the local police station.
“Is this the way to treat a commando of a uniformed force? The jawan was treated like a dreaded criminal by putting handcuff and chain which are in any case disallowed to be put on a person,” a senior CRPF official said.
The commando is posted with the 207th battalion of the CoBRA. This unit is presently deployed for anti-Naxal operations in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.