Navruna case: Saga of misinformation and manipulation

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Patna:“Ek machhar sala aadmi ko hijra bana deta hai

Roughly translated, this dialogue of thespian, Nana Patekar, in the film, Yashwant means: “One mosquito can turn a man into a eunuch”.

This dialogue hit the lips of the movie goers in 1997 when the film Yashwant was released. But the famous dialogue aptly reflects the dubious role of a self styled RTI activist who has botched up a tragic case involving the abduction and murder of a teenage girl, Navruna Chakravarty in north Bihar’s Muzaffarpur town in 2012.

The way a tiny mosquito incapacitates even an able and all powerful human being by stinging him in his sleep, the self styled RTI activist virtually incapacitated the premier investigating agencies—the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Bihar’s Crime Investigation Department (CID)—from carrying out proper investigation in the case. The ‘activist’ played on the mind of the deceased, Navruna’s parents, confusing  the latter and goading them for non-cooperation with the investigating agencies concerned.

How did it happen in the case involving the snatching of a young life and then generating barrage of misleading media reports in the last six years? Read on the sequence of events to decode the answer:–

  • A Muzaffarpur city resident, Amulya Chakravarty lodged an FIR about abduction of his teenage daughter, Navruna with the city police station on September 19, 2012. The FIR (507/12) stated that the unknown criminals had twisted his house’s window rods to make space for incursion and had abducted Navruna. The police station registered the case under sections 364/366 (a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and set in motion the process of investigation.
  • The police didn’t act swiftly in the case which, apparently, led the media and nosy reporters carrying out numerous reports on the issue in the local dailies and other instruments of the news dissemination.
  • The buzz in the media on the tragic issue obviously drew the attention of the Bihar Chief Minister and also a Supreme Court judge from Bengali society who suggested the then Additional Director of Police, Muzaffarpur, Gupteshwar Pandey—now Director General of Police (DGP), Bihar– to inspect the case at his level. Normally, an ADG rank officer doesn’t delve in such cases which are supervised and handled at the level of Superintendent of Police (SP) or Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). But Pandey—known for his pro-active role in policing over the years—hit the spot with DIG, SP and scores of his other subordinate police officials about 40 days after the lodging of the FIR. The media was seized with the issue and, thus, scores of reporters and cameramen too reached the spot of occurrence to cover the episode.
  • Pandey spoke to Amulya Chakravarty, his wife and his relatives to understand the issue. He perused the files and found out lapses in the process of investigation. Subsequently, he wrote a letter on October 10, 2012, pointing out loose ends in the investigation and directing the officials concerned to carry it out in a swift and diligent manner. Pandey’s initiatives speeded up the process of investigation.
  • Two and half months after this episode, a decomposed body was recovered from a pit, just five steps away from Amulya Chakravarty’s dwellings. Naturally, the recovery of the body from the vicinity of the house of Amulya whose daughter had been abducted created anxious curiosity in the city with hundreds of people converging at the place and imperilling law and order. The ADG, the district magistrate and several police officials apart from the media men reached there to find about the decomposed body close on the heels of Amulya’s house which had lost its teenage dweller.
  • The police asked Amulya to identify the body. But to the surprise of one and all, Amulya’s brother was taking his lunch as usual on the dining table. Neither Amulya nor any of his family members came out to see the body. “It might be the body of cat or dog. We have nothing to do with it”, Amulya said tersely and in the process got away from cooperating with the process of investigation. It was the second and last time the ADG—now Bihar DGP—had inspected the case which subsequently was transferred to the CID and then to the CBI.
  • The forensic investigation established that the body was that of a 15 year old girl which led the investigators to conjecture that it might be of Navruna’s. The investigators asked for the DNA test of Amulya who refused the same. The court concerned also asked Amulya to undergo the DNA test in the interest of the investigation that Amulya refused to abide by. Amulya’ refusal for DNA examination virtually halted the investigation. Media came out with many speculative stories on the issue. The parties approached the Supreme Court which ordered CBI inquiry. The CBI investigators eventually made Amulya undergo the DNA examination which testified that the body, of course, belonged to Navruna. The DNA report proved conclusively that Navruna is no more in this world and the CBI had hit the right nails in the investigation.

NEW TWIST LACED WITH MISINFORMATION AND IMBROGLIO:

ADG, Gupteshwar Pandey who had, long ago, turned his attention away from this case after it had gone to the CID and then CBI was on way to Patna—Bihar capital—for an official meeting in the last week of the December, 2012. He got a call from a woman who was distraught and weeping. She complained to him that she was a bank official and a person was relentlessly pestering her on way to her bank, ogling at her, passing lecherous remarks, writing uncalled for letters and chasing her. She told Pandey over phone that she would commit suicide if he didn’t rescue her from the “Romeo” in question. An aver alert police officer, Pandey spoke to the Muzaffarpur Superintendent of Police and got connected that woman to the SP. Pandey was extra cautious because the woman had complained at the time when the entire country was on fire because of the rape  and killing of NIRBHAYA in Delhi. The woman didn’t reveal her tormentor’s name. The police sleuths in plain cloth lurked at the place which the complainant had indicated. The sleuths had a success as they caught hold of the man indicated by the harassed woman. They seized his mobile phone which contained several text messages to the woman and objectionable letters, making it to the police dossier and lodging a case against the man.

This tormentor of the woman happened to be one, Hemant Kumar—the self styled RTI activist—who was, somehow, acquainted with Gupteshwar Pandey and expected the latter’s ‘favour’ in the case. But Pandey didn’t know that it was Hemant whom the police had nabbed for tormenting the woman bank employee. Hemant was soon bailed out by the police from the police station.

Now,  Hemant Kumar, working under the shield of the RTI activist, turned heat on the police station, demanding removal of the police station in-charge for ‘defaming’ him and besmirching his prestige. Then he turned heat on Pandey, unduly targeting the latter for ‘defaming’ him. Pandey was flummoxed for he was unable to decipher why Hemant was targeting him, planting numerous unverified stories against him in the media. Pandey was transferred to Patna in April 2013. Hemant lodged a case against Pandey with Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate alleging that Pandey had orchestrated his arrest in the case pertaining to harassment of the woman. The CJM exonerated Pandey after finding the case to be false. Hemant for unexplained reason began baying for Pandey’s blood and lodged a case in vigilance court questioning Pandey’s admission in law, his questionable TA bills and loss of an AK-47 riffle which couldn’t stand the scrutiny of the law and dismissed.

A conversation with the cross section of people at Muzaffarpur revealed that Hemant was trying to gain media limelight by targeting Pandey—a high profile IPS officer known for his integrity and smart policing. Hemant drove his nose in Navruna case trying to engineer the people’s anger against Pandey. He and one of his accomplices, Abhilek Ranjan displayed placards and bill boards spreading falsehood about Navruna case’s investigation and tried to disturb the Prime Minister’s meeting. The enraged people beat up Hemant for mischievously raising question on the CBI and investigators. He worked on the mind of Amulya Chakravarty and relatives misleading them about the case and questioning the CBI’s role. He has carried out numerous misinformation campaign against Pandey, CBI and others on the Facebook and other social media sites.

Thus, this is the time to end this story by quoting the dialogue once again: “Ek machhar sala admi ko  hijra bana deta hai”. It is now reasonably easy for the readers to discern who that machhar (mosquito) is in Navruna case, biting and confusing the CBI and even the mighty Indian judiciary.

(All the original documents related to story are with this correspondent).

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