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Cops cock a snook at criminal reform

Patna, Jan. 11: The four criminals given a chance by the high court to reform themselves were taken away by force by a unit of Patna police, raising questions about the efficacy of the rehabilitation system pursued by the judiciary to allow history-sheeters to get back into the mainstream of society.

Pintu Yadav and his three friends were forcibly whisked away on Monday afternoon by a police team comprising members of the Specific Intelligence Unit (SIU), commonly known as the “Rangdaari Cell”, and officials of the Patrakar Nagar police station who believed the four criminals, now out on bail, had information about a gang which was behind the daylight loot of Rs 3.8 lakh from a liquor trader on January 6.

The four men — Pintu Yadav, Chandan Kumar, Sunny Kumar and Naveen Yadav, all aged between 21 and 35 years — were carrying out community service for six months at the Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts on orders of the Patna High Court.

The quartet, who had been kept at Patrakar Nagar police station for interrogation, has been released on personal bail bond.

A senior officer at the police station admitted that his colleagues and a team of the SIU had picked up the four. “Nothing wrong was found and they have been released. The police wanted some information about the loot case last week and have got what they wanted,” the officer said.

The brazen raid has caught the attention of the Bihar State Human Rights Commission, which said it was willing to take action against the police.

Commission chairman Justice (retired) S.N. Jha told The Telegraph that in case the four men, who are out on provisional bail granted by the high court, had other cases against them, the police had to justify their action. “A bail can be said to be a contract between the offender and the court. It means that the person or persons are in the custody of the court and that the police, without any kind of justification, cannot apprehend them. If such has been done, the commission can always take action based upon a formal complaint. Of course, suo motu action can be taken by the commission, but it would be better if there is a complaint,” Jha said.

The commission is yet to receive any complaint.

The police team, comprising about a dozen men in civilian clothing, had identified themselves as members of the Special Task Force when they stormed the trust board office at Mandiri on Monday.

The men, said officials at the trust office, didn’t bother to produce any kind of credentials, nor did they offer any explanation for their action.

Pintu Yadav, carrying out community work for about a month, alleged he was slapped by the men. He said that once in the car, all four of them were blindfolded.

“I was taken to ICICI Bank at Rajendra Nagar area where the cops showed me a male figure on CCTV camera and asked me to identify the person. They asked me whether it was ‘Raja’ or not. I said I had no clue but they kept pressing me as to whether he was Raja, a resident of Khemnichak area of Patna. I again said I had no idea,” Pintu said.

He was brought back to the police station. After sometime, all four of them were taken to the bank again where they were showed the same footage. “We couldn’t recognise him. We were brought back to the police station. Around 9pm, the police released us after making us sign a PR bond,” said Sunny.

Judicial experts said the incident reflected police high-handedness. “The police should have sought permission of the court or at least the authorities with whom the men had been placed by the court before taking such a step. The manner in which they were picked up shows that the police have no respect for the judiciary and thinks that a criminal cannot reform,” said Y.C Verma, a senior high court advocate.

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