An instance of cops bullying citizens into submission claimed one life yesterday, when a vada pav seller in RCF Colony dared to defy the authority of police constables.
The abominable episode stretched out until late last night, when cops refused to take down an FIR, infuriating citizens, who took to the streets and started pelting stones.
After cops refused to register an FIR, angry citizens went on a rampage and destroyed public property last night
At 12.30 am on Friday, Sachin Khopkar (24), the owner of a vada pav stall, was standing and chatting with three of his friends outside his building in RCF colony in Chembur, when two beat marshal cops on night rounds, arrived on a bike and asked the foursome to split ways and head home.
One of the friends, Swapnil Peter, said, “The cops started abusing us and shouted at us for staying out late. When we told them we were about to go, they started slapping us. We ran away but Sachin stood there.”
Another witness, Sayyed Sadam, hiding nearby, said he saw a police van take Sachin’s unconscious body away.
It was later revealed that one of the constables had called for the van, which took Sachin to Rajawadi hospital in Ghatkopar around 1.30 am where he was declared dead on arrival, as an unidentified body found in RCF colony.
The constables were Amrutlal Bhilare and Sathe, of the RCF police station. According to Bhilare, who was among the cops who had taken the body to the hospital, he found the body lying by the roadside after which he called the police van and took it to Rajawadi hospital.
Sachin’s family was unaware of the incident until morning, when his mother and elder brother, Naresh, started enquiring of his whereabouts. Said Naresh, “We asked Sachin’s friends who were with him the night before and they narrated the whole incident.
We went to RCF police station where an officer told us that a body had been taken to Rajawadi hospital.” The family identified Sachin’s body and took it to JJ hospital around 3 pm yesterday, disallowing cops to perform an autopsy.
According to his other friends, Sachin was known in the area for his vada pavs. He never got into fights and kept to himself. The three main witnesses to the incident said they used to hang out daily at the spot. “How could they kill him? He hardly ever raised his voice to anyone,” said one of his friends.
Another of Sachin’s four brothers, Sandesh, said, “Policewallas are the biggest goons today. They killed my brother for no reason, and dumped his body at a hospital. We won’t take Sachin’s body home until they are punished.”
When Sachin’s family went to file a complaint at the RCF station, the cops refused to take down an FIR. This angered residents of the area.
At around 11 pm, a mob of 250 from the RCF area took to the streets to protest the unbidden brutality of the cops. They pelted stones on buses and other vehicles. The police resorted to lathi charge to rein in the crowd.
Officials at RCF station refused to take calls. ACP J Khandagle refused to comment. Sources revealed that the two constables haven’t reported to the police station yet.