The Rediff Interview/Gopinath Munde
'If policemen kill criminals who are harmful to society I don't see anything wrong with it'
The Bombay police has been time and again accused of killing inconvenient criminals in encounters. There are also allegations that some gangsters themselves funded police encounters with their rivals. Politicians too have reportedly shunted out policemen who disagreed. Syed Firdaus Ashraf met Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Gopinath Munde and asked him about the validity of these allegations.
Since you have come into power, what steps have you taken to maintain law and order in Bombay?
To maintain law and order in the city, I have ordered the Bombay police to have regularly put up nakka bandis (police road blocks). This has been very helpful. And as a result the crime rate has declined in the past 30 months.
Today laymen feel that Shiv Shahi (the rule of Maratha hero Chhatrapati Shivaji) has returned to Maharashtra. If you compare the situation with that of the years before, during the rule of the Congress, you will find that there have been no shoot-outs due to gang rivalries in the past 30 months.
However, many criminals have been killed in encounters with policemen during your tenure.
Yes, I agree that during the BJP-Shiv Sena rule, 90 gangsters were killed and 267 criminals were been arrested under the National Security Act. But if policemen kill criminals who are harmful to society I don't see anything wrong with it.
There have been allegations by human right activists that most of the encounter deaths are fake and innocent people have been killed by policemen. What do you have to say about that?
These are false allegations. If a complaint has been filed by an individual against a policeman stating that one of his kin has been killed in an encounter. I personally investigate the situation.
If I do find something wrong in the case a detailed inquiry is conducted. But so far, I have not come across a case where I have found an innocent man killed in a fake encounter. However, if human rights organisations still believe that there have been deaths due to fake encounters, they are welcome to approach me.
But in any case, constitutionally, the police have no right to kill any human being. They have to aim at the suspect's legs to injure them rather than try and kill them, right?
My policemen kill only when they are attacked by criminals. And I do not understand why people pity these gangsters. I have no humanity for any person who kills another. They deserve severe punishment from the courts.
But I agree that if a common man dies in an encounter, strict action must be taken against the concerned policemen. When two innocent businessmen were killed by the police in Delhi, the then police commissioner Nikhil Kumar was transferred.
Self-protection is the right of every man. I feel this right of self-protection is not a basic right for policemen alone but must also extend to the common man.
It has been alleged that gangsters bribe policemen to eliminate their rivals, and it is later put down to deaths in encounters. Is it true?
No, the Bombay police is very sincere and honest. Even today, I will rank it as the second best in the world after Scotland Yard.
Former gangster Arun Gawli fears that he will be killed in a fake encounter?
Don't call him a former gangster. I am sure even after his release he has not changed. The court's decision to release Gawli was a setback for us. It demoralised the police force and that is why we are challenging the court's order. And as far his allegation that he will be killed in a fake encounter is concerned, it is a lie. People like Gawli are a threat to society.
It has been alleged that you have ordered the transfers of policemen who opposed your party, specially DCP Sanjay Pande. What you do have to say on the matter?
No, I disagree. I have introduced a new rule for transfers, according to which no single officer can stay in one area for more than three years. If an officer stays longer in a locality, he becomes friendly with the local politicians. And this familiarity breeds corruption.
Some people feel such a policy discriminates against certain police officials. But that is not true. The fact is, our government wants to give other police officials a chance to prove their ability.
90 men killed in encounters with Bombay police
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