The Ramabai Colony - Ghatkoper - Mumbai Incident.

While I was commanding SRPF Group I at Pune, a statue of a great national leader was desecrated at Ramabainagar in Mumbai. A riot broke out and SRPF opened fire to control the mob. Ten innocent persons died in the firing. This had repercussions in many places in Maharashtra and it became a major political issue.

It was alleged that the SRPF officer, being a high-caste Hindu, deliberately killed the low-caste down trodden people.  There were allegations and counter allegations.  A law and order situation took a communal turn.  A judicial commission was appointed to inquire into the incident.  It arrived at the following conclusions.

A] No efforts were made to disperse the crowd and they were directly fired upon.  PSI M W. Kadam was responsible for this.
B] The police firing was without warning, uncontrolled and unjustified.

The government ordered action against the PSI as per these findings.  Are the findings of the commission correct and proper?  Were all the facts placed before the commission?  It is for the commission to find out the truth in the matter reffered to it for inquiry.  The commission has to be the investigator, the inquirer, the prosecutor and the judge.  Unfortunately in this incident, the commission could find only the symptoms of the ailment.  It could not find the ailment.  How can the ailment be cured by treating only the symptoms?

Was the commission apprised of the ethos of the police administrations, its shortcomings in dealing with law and order situation?  Was the commission apprised of the reaction of a junior police officer facing or expecting an attack from all sides?  If so, could the commission comprehend it?  Was the commission apprised of the various undercurrents in the police organisation?  I firmly believe that the shortcomings of the Police force were never brought to the notice of the commission.  The commission could not comprehend the realities by the evidence brought before it.  The commission formed its opinion only on the basis of the record and the depositions of witnesses tutored by the lawyers.

There is a world of difference in what you hear and what you see.  Very often such commissions just do not get the feel of the situation.  Hundreds of angry, agitated men have assembled at one spot.  They are indulging in stone pelting and arson.  The PSI sees his colleagues injured & bleeding.  They opened fire, was this situation faced by the PSI really brought home to the commission?  Did the commission fully comprehend it?  The real lacunas in the police force were never brought before the commission.  The PSI was made a scapegoat so that all others could escape scot-free.  I can say this because the platoon that opened fire belonged to SRPF group I, of which I was the commanding officer.  I had studied the short-comings of the SRPF in depth and submitted my thesis to my superior.

According to me, the PSI was one of the finest officers of SRPF group I.  The happenings at Ramabai Nagar were inevitable even if the best officer in Maharashtra (even the Director General of Police!) were to handle the situation.  The commission would have found him at fault.  The Administration got over the situation by putting all the blame on the PSI.  Ten innocent persons were killed in Ramabai Nagar.  This was truly very unfortunate.  However was the SRPF responsible for the same?  If so, how?  If not, then who were really responsible for it?  We will have to turn to my thesis on the SRPF to find the answers.