मुंबई से प्रकाशित मिडडे अखबार ने पत्रकार ताराकांत द्विवेदी उर्फ अकेला की दास्तान प्रकाशित की है. अकेला ने कहा है कि अगर उनके साथ पुलिस ऐसा बर्ताव कर सकती है तो आम आदमियों की क्या दशा-दुर्दशा ये पुलिस बनाती होगी, सोचा जा सकता है. स्टोरी में अकेला ने पूरा किस्सा बताया है, पढ़िए…
Nothing can break me now : Akela
Released on bail after being kept in police custody for five days under the draconian Official Secrets Act, MiD DAY reporter Tarakant Dwivedi AKA Akela writes that the entire plot reeked of conspiracy, but that the experience has only made him stronger and more determined
As a crime reporter for nearly 15 years, I have witnessed the lines between criminals and those entrusted with stopping them getting increasingly blurred. I have come across and exposed absolute crooks masquerading as policemen and was aware that my reports were rubbing people in high places the wrong way. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone from the establishment, armed with a misguided notion of revenge, sought to come after me and implicate me in a fabricated case. But, the scale and planning of last week’s act of personal vendetta took even me by surprise.
On Tuesday, May 17, hours after three policemen whisked me away from office claiming they wanted to record my statement in a trespassing case, I was taken to St George Hospital for a medical exam. However, no doctor came to examine me and I was declared fit for police custody after the cops got a few medical papers stamped. I overheard a man, who looked like the complainant in my case, speaking to a police constable who was accompanying me. “Sir, I’ve been after this case for the last two days. I haven’t eaten or met my family.
You will take care of me, right?” the man asked the constable. I was stunned. It began to sink in that taking my statement was just a ruse and my arrest was pre-planned down to the last detail.
Fear creeps in
I was then lodged in a 300-sq ft police lock-up at CST railway station. There, in that dingy, stinking cell, which was devoid of even a fan or a ventilator, fear struck me for the first time. I wasn’t afraid of letting the law taking its course but what did scare me were the innumerable stories of torture and other excesses in police custody that I’d heard from the victims first hand. People had told me repeatedly that all voices that spoke against the police force were systematically crushed by the men in uniform.
And my fears did not prove unfounded, for, soon, ACP Anil Mahabole of the Azad Maidan division walked menacingly into the lock-up. “I wanted to see you behind bars,” he spat out. “Tum bohut bade aadmi ho. Mera phone bhi nahi lete ho,” he said, leading me to think that I had hurt his big ego. “Main aapka darshan karne aaya hoon,” he sniggered.
I knew I was a victim of Mahabole’s personal vendetta and he confirmed my suspicion when he said, just before he left, that ACP Bapu Thombre, Inspector Pandharinath Yeram and Pradip Sonthalia (the complainant in my case) were his chelas. “I hope you get my point. Baaki bahar milenge,” he said, glee dripping from his voice.
Till I was produced in court on Wednesday, I had no idea they were slapping sections of the draconian Official Secrets Act (OSA) on me. I have done stories on the Act and knew exactly how stringent it was.
Sitting alone in the lock-up that night, I was worrying where the case was going when the stench and stuffiness began to get to me. I started feeling a bout of nausea and uneasiness, accompanied by chest pain. I requested the lock-up officer for a medical check-up. After preliminary examination, the doctor advised that I stay in the hospital. While I was being taken to the ward, the detection officer, PSI Gajur, tried to coax the doctor into not admitting me because I was a journalist. “He is a dangerous criminal,” he told the doctor.
The next morning, ACP Bapu Thombre came to visit me in the hospital. “Since you are admitted, I will have to seek further police custody,” he said in a menacing tone. On Saturday, five days after I was taken into custody and the day my bail application was scheduled to be heard, I saw the cops arm-twist the law. The case papers that were needed to be produced in the hospital were deliberately delayed so that I would miss my date. I saw my colleagues and fellow journalists argue and fight with the police and the hospital authorities to speed up the procedure.
Finally, at 3.15 pm, I was produced in court, which granted me bail. I have now resolved to seek judicial inquiry in this case. Yesterday, as I was readying to leave the hospital, I felt stronger and more determined to speak the truth. Nothing can bend or break me, I kept reassuring myself. As I strode out, a couplet came to mind: Jab paida hui police, toh khush hua iblees, Ki ab hum bhi sahibe aulaad ho gaye (The evil men rejoiced when the police force was formed; for they now had their own children to nurture).
On my way back to work, I kept thinking that if the police can do this to a journalist, who can speak out for himself in the media, what must the ordinary citizen have to go through?