In a five-minute video clip, probationary IPS officer Bhagyashree Navtake of the Maharashtra Police brags of how she has managed to file fake cases against 21 Dalits who filed various complaints at her police stations. On Monday, 3rd December 2018, the Deputy Superintendent of Police was transferred from Majalgaon in Beed to the Aurangabad intelligence Department.
In that video, Navtake is heard saying, “I saw you when you were brought in front of me, but I could not do anything as there were other policemen. I know you were pleading with me, but if I had stopped them, they would have objected. And a wrong message would have gone out that I am supporting you because I am a Maratha, as they have also seen how I have thrashed 21 Dalits and Muslims in the past six months.”
“I have registered cases under Section 307 against Dalits, and hence a strong message was sent out that madam doesn’t spare anyone. If I had spared you, it would have looked like madam is a Maratha and hence stopped us from assaulting (Marathas),” she further added.
Further on in the video, she also talks about her interrogation techniques and also admitted to beating up Dalits. Navtake, who said she is a Maratha herself, is speaking to a group of Marathas who seem to have come to her for advice after being arrested in a case under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. She told them that if she released them now, there would be a violent reaction in the local society.
Instead, she told them how she dealt with a similar case under the Act when she was posted in Pimpri near Pune city. Navtake said that she did not arrest the accused Marathas in that case for three days, but instead told them how to file a false case against the Dalits in question. She advised the accused to file a case under Section 122 of the Indian Penal Code, which is an offence to bear arms without a licence.
“I tie the hands and legs of Dalits and take out my anger about [the Atrocities Act] on them,” she is heard telling the accused in a Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act case. At the beginning of the video, the person also says that she has filed cases under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, or attempt to murder, against Muslims, so that they do not get bail easily.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Parambir Singh said, “An inquiry has been ordered. IG Dorje will carry out an inquiry to probe the authenticity of the clip and submit his report. During the course of the inquiry, Navtake would be asked to explain her stand.”
According to sources, preliminary assessment has revealed the video to be shot at Navtake’s Majalgaon office. A probe is still ongoing as to when the video was shot. It has also been revealed that the men in the video are of the Maratha community and are involved in protests across the state for reservations in education and jobs for their community. “It will be probed whether the video has been doctored… Also, why were those seen in the video summoned to her office. The probe will also look into the veracity of the claims she has made,” said an official. The initial probe conducted has successfully helped in zeroing down on who shot the video. “However, a detailed inquiry by IG Dorje would reveal if the claims made in the video are indeed genuine,” said a senior officer from the DGP office.
A key demand in the Maratha rallies for reservations across Maharashtra in the last two years has been to dilute the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which the community believes unfairly targets them, citing low conviction rates. However, critics have said that conviction rates are low precisely because the state apparatus is biased against Dalits.