It’s not surprising that the probe of Gopinath Munde’s accidental death has now been handed over to CBI. It took almost a fortnight for the Government to take this decision, after Eknath Khadse, the BJP Maharashtra unit chief and Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari met the Union Home Minister and expressed the desire of the Maharashtra BJP and the people of the State in general for such an action. We have already seen the violent expression of public anger at Beed, on the funeral day… demanding CBI probe.
Gopinath Munde was killed in a collision with a Tata Indica car, on this way to the Indira Gandhi International airport on the morning of June 3. The driver of the Indica car was arrested, and later released on bail. The surprising fact is that after a senior and important Union Minister was killed in a daytime accident, in the ‘VIP area’, in the vicinity of PM’s residence an at a stone’s throw from the Tughlaq Road Police Station, no police official small or big was made accountable for the lapse!
The Home Ministry, under which the Delhi Police works, could easily have asked the Delhi Police Commissioner for detailed report, how the glaring lapses happened, that might have ultimately contributed to an extent to a senior and important Minister’s untimely death in broad daylight! Neither the Traffic Police Special Commissioner, nor the Station in charge of the Tughlaq Road Police Station was asked to explain, how the laxity happened in the heart of Delhi’s most secured area, the Lutyen’s Delhi, at around 6.20 AM, with no police presence in the vicinity of the area, where Munde’s car was hit!
It is a fact that, it never required the loud proclamation of Jamaat-Ul-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed or Al-Qaida, to know that the BJP top functionaries and its Ministers are now at the target of various Islamic Militant Groups like Indian Mujahedeen and others. Shri Munde was not accompanied by any security personnel at the time of the accident. And that’s a big surprise! As per the order of procedure or protocol, a Union Cabinet Minister’s post is equivalent to a serving Chief Minister or a former Prime Minister.
As per CM’s Security Protocol, the on road security measures to be coordinated and have to be communicated by using GPS as well as manual method with the help of topo-sheet. While Munde’s PSO has duly informed the relevant authority, as per the reports go, that he was no accompanying the Minister, then why an alternative security arrangement was not made in place and police personnel were not alerted accordingly? Gopinath Munde has a Y Category security cover and it required continuous security provided to him, while on move or at home. Though Y-category cover does not entitle a beneficiary to either a pilot or escort vehicle, it definitely encompasses two personal security officers (PSOs).
One never buys the argument that Shri Munde was reluctant to take his PSO. Even Arvind Kejriwal was not asking for any personal security, but while he was Delhi’s CM, Delhi Police provided him adequate security. If present, a PSO must have got in touch with the Police Station nearby and his seniors, for urgent action and stood as a reliable witness. Here Police got to know, only when the Tata Indica driver (possibly after consultation with his employer and friends) called the police and allegedly provided misleading information, long 25 minutes after the accident. Reportedly, it took another 10-15 minutes for the police to know that the Maruti SX 4 car actually belonged to Shri Munde!
What About Munde’s Car?
Surprisingly, Munde was not travelling in his regular car. Gopinath Munde always chose to travel in his Toyota Lexus and would buy a new car of the same brand and colour — white — every three years. But on Tuesday, 3rd June, he was in a Maruti SX4 car when he met with the fatal accident.
Over the past few years, Gopinath Munde had met with some major accidents which somehow affected his mobility. In a stage collapse during a political meeting in the 1990s he was injured badly. In another major Road Accident in 2007 when his vehicle went off the road in an attempt to save a kid at Parli, Maharashtra, he was seriously injured and fractured his arm.
Munde had categorically told a reporter that he had chosen the Toyota Lexus as he found it safe and comfortable. “I suffered a serious neck injury after a stage on which I was sitting collapsed. Since then I have had problems with my neck and cannot move it normally. So I only use the Lexus which is the biggest car in the segment and is comfortable for someone with my condition,” Munde himself explained. Obviously a Lexus has more security and safety features than a Maruti SX 4.
And most possibly Delhi Police was aware of the fact. So why, he was allowed to travel in a Maruti SX 4, instead of usual Toyota Lexus Car! And that also without the regular driver who used to accompany the Minister. As the report goes, the man who was driving Munde during the accident was a ‘stand by’! A new car, a new driver and no security personnel with him! What a fatal combination!
No CCTV Footage!
Think about it, it never happened at the mid of the night, in a remote village of say Uttar Pradesh. The accident happened on a busy road which falls inside a top security zone, an area known for frequent VVIP movements, and within a kilometre of PM’s residence! And there was no CCTV footage available! Without CCTV footage, a vital evidential input is gone for ever! And why there was no CCTV along the route! The same Tughlaq road or Prithviraj road, often see at night, or early morning, cars moving at breakneck speed…without any check!
Even a day after the fatal accident, several TV channels monitored the area and found, vehicles were moving at great speed, without any bar! Unlike most other country capitals in the world, Delhi roads are not under CCTV or aerial surveillance. And as it seems, Delhi Police has not taken it seriously ever.
If you move out during the night in Delhi, you will usually find no traffic police personnel on the roads, except where the trucks are plying and have chances of solid cash incomes! Cars and Mobikes coming from the wrong side , jumping the red lights and moving at great speed, jostling at red lights for earlier access,…this is a regular scene on Delhi’s roads. And the city is mostly left at night or before, at the mercy of rule-breakers, without the presence of Traffic Police on roads.
Delhi has so many fly overs! But hardly any one of them fitted with CCTV cameras. Heavy jams, fatal accidents happen as usual on these unmanned flyovers. In the Hit and Run cases in the city perhaps in just 25% of the cases, the culprit vehicle was identified. That also when someone took note of the vehicle registration number or one of the culprits was caught! On the highways and ring roads, this is even more difficult. We have seen cases on the Vasnat Kunj Road, how girls returning after night shifts in their offices were waylaid, robbed and killed, on repeated occasions. Police was clueless about the culprits…as usual…in the absence of CCTV footages.
In the age of recurrent terrorist attacks, and also despite Delhi’s strategic position at the crossroads, why CCTV cameras were not installed on a priority basis, on Delhi Roads, is still a big mystery! During the Commonwealth Games, we heard about that Delhi Police was trying to get a Helicopter of its own. It never happened. The only speculation came out of the news that someone was approaching the ill-famed Augusta-Westland, for it, for obvious reasons.
Pre And Post Nirbhaya Delhi
When the lawmakers in the Parliament were furious about the incident, Delhi Police suddenly got into active mode to protect Delhi’s women! For just a few days there was police presence on the roads at night…busses were monitored, barricades put on the roads at night, big assurances were given. But police activity fizzled out, once the Parliamentarians and the Home Ministry shifted its focus elsewhere.
Women are still feeling insecure on Delhi’s roads. Specially more at night. There are many instances thereafter, when girls were abducted from the Bus Stops, Auto Drivers misled Girls and Women from Bus and Railway Stations and molested them. Women attacked near Metro stations, culprits tried to pull women in their cars…
Where are the CCTVs, and Police Surveillance and Assistance for the women around, Bus Terminus’s and Railway Stations and likewise places! Visit any day or night the Anand Vihar Railway Station and Inter State Bus Terminus, or At Sarai Kale Khan…the scene has not changed a bit, ever after the Nirbhaya mishap and massive protests! Anti-socials are still loitering around in open, in search of their prey!
Yadav Travels For Example
One of its busses was involved in the Nirhaya Rape case. Reportedly many of its busses were running on NOIDA –Delhi routes without any valid permit or route permission. They were regularly threatening the DTC drivers and conductors, on NOIDA-Delhi routes, attacking them. Made them to trail or skip the trips. According to reports, there were several complaints made by DTC and its workers and Delhi Police hardly took any serious action. Obviously, such a regular fleet could not have run without the tacit assurance!
The bus which was involved in Nirbhaya Case was ultimately caught on a Private Hotel CCTV footage, which was on its route! Even during the Red Line or Blue Line menace, many of these busses were running without any valid permit or route permission. A Sting operation during that time revealed how many of them were plying, just paying regular haftas to the police personnel! Few low rung policemen, caught on the sting operation CD, were suspended. But it’s the common sense that the lower rank police presumed are also a part of the much bigger system.
Will the new Home Minister, look into this perennial malice and rut?
A Minister Died
And it’s a serious incident. People have expected a massive overhaul thereafter to clean and streamline the system. But nothing such happened. Gopinath Munde was the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999.
At the position of deputy chief minister, he was also designated as the Home minister. After the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai, the menace of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim had increased. The gang wars were becoming common on the streets of Mumbai and in its suburbs. In 1993 Bombay bombings, a series of 13 bomb explosions took place on a single day, Friday, 12 March 1993. The coordinated attacks, the most destructive bomb explosions in Indian history, took 350 lives and injured 1200 people. It was orchestrated as the revenge of the Demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and Pak Intel agency ISI’s name came out in the investigation.
In the year 1995, when BJP-Shiv Sena formed the government in Maharashtra, Gopinath Munde was given the position of Deputy CM and State Home Minister. As soon as he came to power, he took cudgel against the underworld,. After his long effort, the underworld ultimately picked up the vibes and Dawood Ibrahim left India for ever, to be shifted to Dubai.
On several occasions Munde repeated the demand to Bring Dawood Ibrahim to India. It’s the same Gopinath Munde, who had promised to unmask the former ‘Ministers’ from whose offices “suspicious” telephone calls had allegedly been made to Dubai, the place synonymous with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Ultimately he revealed some names! Was Delhi Police unaware of these crucial facts?
Seat Belts And More
There was much talk of Seat Belts these days. Of course seat belts are necessary. But how many of us know that tying the Rear Seat Belt is also mandatory? Is there any awareness drive to educate the people? Forget about the Rear Seat Belt, many of the cab drivers, delivery van drivers and drivers driving old model cars, don’t even use seat belt while driving! In the name of seat belt, there is just a piece of tape, tied with the front seat, just as the formality!
But to be frank, the Seat Belts can avoid just 1% accidents in Indian scenario. According to a research, ‘Car occupants’ share of fatalities in Delhi is around 2-3%. So, the real world impact of enforcing strict Seat Belt laws could potentially reduce road fatalities by a mere 1%. In Delhi, Pedestrians and bicyclists account for about 57% of fatalities.26% fatalities are of motorbike riders. Trucks and heavy vehicles share the rest.
There is simply no protection for the pedestrians and poor cycle riders. Almost every footpath has been encroached upon in Delhi. Encroached by roadside vendors, various shops, Kiosks, Dhabas, Offices of different hues, Motor Repairing shops, Travel Taxi wallahs and mushrooming Nursing Homes. These Nursing Homes have no parking space allotted for the cars and ambulances. They have continuously encroached the Municipality roads, Metro Spaces and the Footpaths. Even in many posh localities of Delhi, the cars are simply parked on the roads, encroaching half of it…incurring regular traffic jams and accidents. And no one will believe, they don’t have some tacit understanding with the police!
Where Is The “Acche Din’ On Delhi Roads?
It’s a clear fact that, many of this police force has worked for years with a corrupt Government at helm, being comfortable with an utterly corrupt system, seeking personal benefits. They are still there and camouflaging as usual. But the real threat remains. If the new Government wants real change, after a decisive mandate, they should first clear the mess. It’s now or never!
Sab Chalta Hai!
I often visit smaller Indian curies and it’s really a spectacle, how the local Traffic Police personnel work at the busy crossroads, regulating traffic diligently and ceaselessly. In Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, one can mark them often on the roads. Here in Delhi most of the Traffic Police personal are off the roads except at some busiest junctions, sometimes resting or gossiping in their kiosks. Often seen busy in queuing up the two wheeler, cars and the trucks, for issuing Challns! Paisa to Isi Se Hi Aata Hai”( That’s a major source of income), once quipped a policeman. Now, what that actually means, people have different opinions on that.
P.S. Just recently we have seen, how Chennai police stood united for a humanitarian cause.
How the Deputy Commissioner of Police Sivanandan himself took charge. Charted route for an Ambulance to reach a distance of 12 kilometres in just 14 minutes, instead of usual 45 minutes. Made the entire route a ’green corridor’, free of red lights for the time being, positioned 26 traffic police personnel at 12 intersections and monitored the entire operation via radio, to make the Ambulance reach the hospital with a vital donor organ, to a waiting patient on the operation table!
Can’t we think of something as human, helping and honest example, in Delhi too?
By Deep Basu