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PUCL July, 2004
[Published in PUCL Bulletin, august 2004]

Delhi traffic police inspector shoots a jeep driver for not paying timely hafta

By Pushkar Raj, General secretary, Pucl-Delhi

A Delhi police assistant sub inspector shot and wounded a mini-passenger jeep driver from his licensed revolver on July 9, 2004 at Nagloi, a West Delhi colony.

PUCL-Delhi General Secretary conducted a fact finding report on the incident. The same is presented below.

The background of the incident
The area where the incident took place is thickly populated. It lies on the western edge of Delhi bordering Haryana, a neighboring state. Nagloi was once a village but now the village is untraceable in the mesh of unauthorized colonies that have surrounded it stretching towards the border of Haryana leading to Bahadur Garh, a town in the neighboring Haryana state. A large number of people commute daily to work in Delhi from Bahdur Garh and neighboring towns of Haryana. These people depend for transport on the operation of about 45 vehicles that include jeeps (with a capacity of about 15 passengers), Rural Transport Vehicles (RTV) and others. Some of these vehicles have Haryana numbers other have Delhi numbers. Most of them have no license to carry the passengers. But that does not matter for them. If law is observed in letter and spirit none of these vehicles should be allowed to cross the border over to Delhi. But they do. Day in and day out for allegedly a sum of Rs. 2500 per month to the traffic police inspector in charge of the area, popularly known as ZO (zonal officer). It seems to be an open secret; as apparent and normal as morning sun.

The incident
Place: Near Nangloi Chowk, a busy commercial junction of West Delhi
Time: 9:35 am Driver of Jeep no. HR 26 G 7339, Surender, aged 23 tall and healthy had just come to Nagloi Chowk with his passengers from Bahadur Garh who had alighted. He was waiting for passengers for backward journey. He was seated at derivers seat, his helper was calling for passengers. Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Anup Singh arrived on the scene. He parked his motor cycle in front of the jeep, asked for his hafta of Rs. 2500, and argued with the driver. Abuses from the police personnel followed. A scuffle ensued, driver remaining on the seat. Suddenly a shot is heard and the driver collapsed on the steering. People gathered and phoned the police control room. It is later found that the ASI Anup shot the driver with his service weapon. The bullet entered the body of the driver just under the rib cage. He is sent to the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital MangolPuri; ASI to the local police station which is barely 300 meters away from the spot of the incident.

The inspector’s version
PUCL could not meet the ASI as he had been in judicial custody since the day of the incident. However PUCL was given access to FIR by the local police station. As per the FIR no. 576/04 dated 9 July 04 registered with the Nagloi police station the following constitutes the version of ASI Anup Singh
`when I reached Nagloi Chowk I saw jeep with a Haryana number HR 26 G 7339 whose driver was calling for passengers. It is an offence under the motor vehicle act. When I placed my motor cycle in front of the jeep then the driver of the jeep started his jeep to scare me away. I did not remove my motorcycle from in front of the jeep. On this he reversed the jeep and began driving the jeep towards Najafgarh. On this I followed him. Then he hit me due to which hoot and light of my motorcycle got pressed and I fell down from the Motor Cycle. After this again he started driving the jeep in reverse direction. At this I thought that by such driving of the jeep some innocent person might be killed and for the purpose of stopping the jeep I pulled out my service revolver and to stop the driver I hanged on to the jeep and told the driver to stop the jeep otherwise someone might get killed or I shall come under the wheels of the jeep. But he did not stop the jeep and I kept getting dragged with the jeep. With the one hand I was hanging to the jeep and in the other I had the pistol. During this a bullet got shot from my revolver.’

Driver Surender’s version
When PUCL met the driver Surender in Sanjay Gandhi Hospital MangolPuri he still seemed under shock and concerned about his post release livelihood status. He was recouping from the wound of the bullet that was dislodged from his stomach. He said that he is a daily basis employed driver who gets Rs. 100 from the owner of the jeep in the evening. If there is a challan the owner cuts the money for the day. Father of two small kids he was being attended by his aged father who works as a watchman at the house of the congress MP Naveen Jindal at Panjabi Bagh, Delhi.

Surender told PUCL that as he was sitting on his driver’s seat ASI Anup Singh approached him and asked for the monthly of Rs 2500. According to surrender he told him that he should wait for a day or two as he was not able to ply the vehicle for preceding three four days. At this he abused him and threatened to take the vehicle under his custody. At this he got scared as vehicle going under police custody means challan (fine) ranging from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 15000. The argument further ensured and the inspector forcefully tried to snatch the key of the vehicle. As he was still sitting on his seat the inspector started beating him. In order to get rid of him he reversed his jeep (ASI’s motor cycle was standing in front of the jeep) and this way tried to extricate from the ASI. Suddenly he found himself shot and collapsed on the wheels.


Conclusion

  1. PUCL interviewed a few shopkeepers who were witness to the incident. Some refused to elaborate on the matter while others admitted that the firing on the part of the ASI was unprovoked. It gives credence to the drivers version that he started the jeep in order to take himself away from the police personnel who was trying to snatch keys of his vehicle. Moreover he could not have driven the jeep speedily in the reverse direction as there is jostling traffic on the road especially during the peak hours of morning and evening.
  2. The motor cycle of the ASI had a very little damage. The hoot of the motor cycle got pressed. He also was not injured either. He hardly had a bruise. It is apparent that his argument that he opened fire in self defence holds little water.
  3. Thus firing on the part of police officer was absolutely unwarranted. Since it is alleged that all jeep drivers pay Rs. 2500 per month to the zonal officer (the concerned ASI), the officer seemed to be defending his monthly territory of graft of Rs. 1 lak 12 thousand by such high handedness tactic and scare the other jeep drivers to fall in line for timely payment of the convenience money.
  4. The incident also points to the confidence on the part of the police officer that he could get away with the shooting citing the alibi of self defence. This is borne out from the fact that initially the Nagloi police had booked the driver Surender under section 307 of IPC that is, attempt to murder. It was later changed after the objections were raised and the station house officer was sent to the lines by the police commissioner.


Recommendations

  1. The police commissioner must order an inquiry as to why unlicensed vehicles enter the border without valid permit. He must fix the responsibility for the same. This exercise must be carried out not only on this border point but on the other border points that link Delhi with the neighboring states.
  2. There should be a proper inquiry into the allegation of bribe being given to traffic police personnel as systematic and apparent as monthly salary from the government of India. If the vendor on street with little knowledge of the world knows about it one doubts if the high echelon of police department are not aware of it.
  3. The fact that the police officer has been booked under section 307 of IPC makes it clear that the driver surrender is a victim of the highhanded criminality of the police personnel concerned. The police department must own up the act of his rash act. As the victim is a daily bread earner with a family of four and aged parents, he must be paid a compensation by the police department for the physical injury and mental agony consequent to the incident.

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