Madhya PradeshOpinion

In Madhya Pradesh, ABVP’s ‘rowdies’ have Chouhan’s protection

At Rajiv Gandhi Government College in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, some Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists went to submit a memorandum to the principal. They were shouting slogans in the corridor. Professor Dinesh Gupta, who was taking the class in one of the rooms there, came out and asked the activists not to shout slogans as it was disturbing the teaching. Enraged at the audacity of the professor to ask them not to raise patriotic slogans, the activists almost pounced on him and called him ‘anti-national’.

A video that went viral soon after the incident on September 28 shows the Professor, a heart patient, apologising profusely and touching the feet of the ABVP activists. He is heard mumbling “Maine padhane ka apraadh kiya hai. Maafi maangta hun” (I have committed the crime of teaching. I apologise).

ABVP had become a menace to the society soon after Shivraj Singh Chouhan became Chief Minister at the end of November 2005. Chouhan, who was once himself an ABVP activist is providing full protection to the Parishad’s criminal activities.

Chouhan’s police personnel, including top IPS officers, are behaving most abominably where ABVP is involved. The State police chief was holding a meeting of police officers of the region in Indore. Activists of ABVP and Bajrang Dal went to submit a memorandum to the DGP and were prevented by the Havaldar on guard duty with the observation that the meeting was on. The havaldar was manhandled by the goons. The DGP dare not take action against ABVP or Bajrang Dal activists.

Governor Ram Naresh Yadav once wrote to Chouhan to check rowdyism by the ABVP activists at educational institutions. Chouhan did not do anything. The most glaring example of Chouhan’s surrender of his constitutional authority before the ABVP mafia was witnessed after the murder of Prof Sabharwal.

Prof H S Sabharwal of Madhav College (Ujjain) was asked to conduct the College Union elections in August 2006. Finding irregularities, he decided to cancel the elections for which he was attacked by a group of students, belonging to the ABVP. The police personnel on duty did not act. Prof M L Nath, a colleague of Prof Sabharwal, was manhandled by a group led by ABVP State President Shashi Ranjan Singh Akela and Organising Secretary Vimal Tomar when he tried to intervene.

As Prof Sabharwal was taken to the hospital by his colleagues and declared dead there, Chief Minister Chauhan went public with the statement that Prof Sabharwal had died in an accident and that the ABVP had nothing to do with his death.

However, the visuals of the ABVP activists’ role in the crime repeatedly shown on the TV channels and the countrywide outrage over the murder of the Professor forced Chauhan to ask the police to ‘investigate’. (Ironically, Prof Sabharwal was a founder member of the Vidyarthi Parishad which was later renamed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad).

Initially, the police had arrested 22 persons, mostly belonging to the Congress, in connection with the rowdyism on the Madhav College campus. However, under public pressure (the attack on Prof Sabharwal had made the national headlines), 12 students owing allegiance to ABVP were named accused in the murder.

Ultimately, the challan under Sections 302 and 147 IPC was put up against six of them. They were: Shashi Ranjan Akela (State President of ABVP); Vimal Tomar (Divisional Organising Secretary, ABVP); Vishal Rajoria (member of State Executive, ABVP); Hemant Dube (District Convener, ABVP); Sudhir Yadav and Pankaj Mishra (activists of ABVP).

While the police “investigation” in the murder was going on, the Chief Minister had a 20-minute one-to-one talk with Vimal Tomar, one of the six accused. Tomar, then in custody in Ujjain, was admitted to the State-run M Y Hospital at Indore purportedly for treatment. Chouhan met him there. Tomar was “cured” immediately after meeting the Chief Minister and he was sent back to the custody at Ujjain.

As the witnesses (even the policemen who were eye-witnesses) started turning hostile, the murdered Professor’s son Himanshu knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court. A division bench comprising Arijit Payasat and D K Jain stayed the proceedings in the Ujjain court and asked the BJP government of the State, through its counsel: “What action have you taken against those police officers who resiled from their earlier statements? Would not the trial be a mockery if your police officers turned hostile? Our anxiety is that every police officer will be given a clean chit. We have seen what has happened in the Best Bakery case.”

In the March 12, 2008 order, eventually transferring the trial of the case from Ujjain to Nagpur, the bench observed: “Late Prof H S Sabharwal was a professor in Government College, Ujjain, MP. He was brutally beaten up by certain persons, for taking a rigid stand in the college union elections. Though the assaults were made in the presence of several police officials, media persons and members of public, attempt has been made to project as if his death was a result of an accident.

Initially, First Information Report (FIR) was lodged and after investigation charge sheet was filed and charges have been framed against several persons who are respondents 2 to 7 in the Transfer Petition. The trial commenced in the Court of Sessions Judge, Ujjain, being Sessions Case No. 291 of 2006. During examination of several witnesses who were stated to be eyewitnesses, such witnesses resiled from the statements made during investigation. There were even three police witnesses who also resiled from their earlier statements. They are Dhara Singh (PW-32), Sukhnandan (PW-33) and Dilip Tripathi (PW-34)”.

The bench added: “Grievance of the petitioner is that the witnesses have been coerced, threatened and ultimately justice is a casualty. Role of the investigating officer gives ample scope to doubt impartiality and the sincerity of the investigating agency. Similar is the position of the public prosecutor. It is also highlighted that the trial Court also did not make a serious effort to see that justice is done. In this connection it is pointed out that public prosecutor did not cross-examine the persons who had resiled from their statements made during investigation….”

The trial culminated exactly as Justices Arijit Payasat and D K Jain of the Supreme Court had visualised and the partiality and lack of sincerity on the part of the investigating agency as well as the public prosecutor were much too evident till the last. Justice has been denied to late Prof Sabharwal.

All the six ABVP activists, accused in the murder of Prof H S Sabharwal, were acquitted by Additional District and Sessions Judge Nitin Dalvi, at Nagpur, on the ground that “the prosecution has failed to put up evidence to prove its case and hence the court acquits all six accused.”

N D Sharma

is a senior journalist, and Patron of eNewsroom India.

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