Owner Praveen K Yadav is an engineering graduate.
A GROUP of policemen get enraged when they are asked to pay for their food by the dhaba owner. They return with their colleagues, haul up the owner and his staff, and throw them in jail on a string of false charges.
It’s a classic police scene, immortalised in countless movies. But this time in UP’s Etah, there was a sting in the tale. The dhaba owner turned out to be an engineering graduate who just wouldn’t let go. And the policemen, who framed his staff and customers, are now headed to jail themselves.
On Tuesday, FIRs were registered against an Inspector and two Head Constables after an inquiry by Etah Additional SP Rahul Kumar found that they had implicated 10 persons, including some customers at the dhaba, in “several false cases” last month. And all because the dhaba owner Praveen Kumar Yadav, and his brother, had asked the constables to pay the food bill.
The false charges recorded in the 12 cases lodged against the youngsters, all of them below 30, by Inspector Indresh Pal Singh, and two Head Constables Shailendra and Santosh Kumar, include attempt to murder, and under sections of the Excise Act, the Arms Act and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).
Now, the policemen have themselves been booked under various IPC sections, including 384 (extortion), 342 (wrongful confinement), 336 (endangering life or safety) and 211 (false charge of offence).
Incidentally, Indresh Pal Singh, the Station House Officer of Kotwali Dehat, had already been suspended last week after a surprise inspection found 1,400 cartons of seized liquor missing from the strong room of his station.
“I have transferred the investigation of the cases against the youths to Aligarh, and ordered the suspension of Shailendra and Santosh Kumar,” said IG (Aligarh Range) Piyush Modia.
According to Kotwali Dehat police, they raided the dhaba in Jasram village in the evening of February 4 after getting information that criminals were planning to commit a robbery. They claimed to have arrested 10 persons from the dhaba after a “brief encounter” and “recovered country made pistols, liquor and ganja” from their possession.
The reality, says Yadav, is this. “On February 4 afternoon, the two Head Constables came to our dhaba on a motorcycle and had lunch. But then, they gave just Rs 100 for the bill of Rs 450. When I asked them to pay the bill amount, they started abusing me and left. Soon, a group of policemen arrived in three jeeps and took me and all the others present in the dhaba, including customers, to the station. They thrashed all of us. But they let me go, saying ‘iss langde ke chakkar mein encounter farzi lagega’ (the encounter will look fake because of this disabled man),” he said.
What the policemen didn’t account for was Kumar’s grit and perseverance, forged in the fight for recovery after losing his right leg in a road accident three years ago. It had taken months for the B.Tech graduate to recover — he also lost his job with a leading business house — before he started the dhaba with his elder brother.
“After being released that day, I wrote several letters to senior officials but no one acknowledged them. Over a week ago, I read about the suspension of the SHO in another case and again approached senior police and administrative officials for help. Finally, Etah District Magistrate Vibha Chahal ordered an inquiry,” said Kumar.
Also caught in the case is a local liquor don Bantu Yadav, who allegedly provided the policemen with 80 litres of illicit alcohol to show as seized goods. “Strict action will be taken against Bantu and his associates,” said the IG.
Among the 10 arrested from the dhaba were Kumar’s elder brother Pushpendra Yadav (34), cousin Deepak Yadav (24) and eight others, including East Champaran resident Rahul Kumar Singh and his three friends, who were having food when police arrived.
Singh (26), a businessman, has obtained bail while his friends are still in jail. “They took us from the dhaba on the pretext of questioning us. But inside the police station, they thrashed us and took our belongings. They fired country weapons inside the police station premises and later showed them as recovered from us. The ganja was also arranged by the policemen. I remained in jail for around 40 days and my friends are still inside,” said Singh.
Additional SP Rahul Kumar said: “During the inquiry, I spoke to several people working in the fields near the dhaba. No one heard the gunshots in the so-called encounter. We also checked the background of the 10 persons and found that except for two, no one had any case against them.”
For Yadav, though, the threat is far from over. “Today, Constable Santosh Kumar threatened me in the court premises. I am going to complain about it to the SSP in Etah,” he said.