statesman news service
Mumbai, 22 July
Maharashtra chief secretary Mr Jayant Banthia escaped arrest earlier this month for the state government’s condescending response to a National Human Rights Commission’s order awarding Rs 5 lakh compensation to the family of a staged encounter victim, Ramesh Pawar or Ramya of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, who was gunned down by Mumbai cops at Bandra in 2005.
The chief secretary has confirmed that he came close to being arrested for not honouring the NHRC’s order. In 2005, cops killed Ramya, a goon belonging to the Dawood Ibrahim gang who was wanted by the law keepers in connection with several murders, attempt to murders and extortion.
The police then said they had a tip-off that Ramya would be visiting a friend in Bandra.
They laid a trap to nab him alive but the gangster fired at them. An encounter ensued in which the wanted criminal fell to the cops’ bullets.
The family of the slain gangster approached NHRC complaining the cops murdered him in cold blood. The matter dragged on for years.
The state government took a stand that by all accounts in its possession, the encounter was not a staged one but genuine, since the victim was a hardened criminal.
The state appealed to the NHRC not to grant relief to the gangster’s family lest it would demoralise Mumbai cops.
The commission which acted on its own findings dismissed the state’s contention.
The NHRC had ordered the state to pay Rs 5 lakh to Ramya’s family by 10 July. If the compensation is not paid by the set deadline, the Commission directed the arrest of the state chief secretary.
To save Mr Banthia, the home department rushed to the finance ministry seeking emergency payment of Rs 5 lakh.
The cheque, according to the home ministry, reached the Pawar family by 10 July.
The NHRC ruling was kept pending for several weeks as the Mumbai cops are now shaken by a recent sessions court verdict in the Ramnarayan Gupta encounter case in which a senior inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi and his 12 colleagues were summarily convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Gupta or Lakhan bhaiyya was killed in November 2006 at Versova a western suburb. Like Pawar, Lakhan Bhaiyya was also a wanted gangster with more than a dozen offences against his name. Lakhan was a member of Chota Rajan gang, Dawood’s rival.
The cops from Mumbaihave abandoned encounter killing since the death of Lakhan Bhaiyya.
The state government, sources say, may question the NHRC ruling in Bombay High Court.
The Opposition parties Shiv Sena, the BJP and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have rallied behind the Mumbai cops, criticising the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition for “not protecting its force.”
Three days ago, the family of the convicted senior PI Suryavanshi visited MNS president Mr Raj Thackeray at his Dadar home.
The politician flayed the state administration “for deserting the Mumbai cops in a time of crisis.”