Lucknow, April 12: The Mayavati government has decided to sack and prosecute jawans of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) involved in Wednesday night’s mini-revolt in Ayodhya.
It is also mulling removal of all PAC companies deputed to the Ramjanmabhoomi complex following a request from the district administration and the top police brass, sources said.
The 35th battalion of the PAC — whose jawans turned on their seniors and indulged in arson and violence following the death of a colleague after he fell off a watchtower in the complex — has been shifted. Only 19 companies, with nearly 120 personnel in each, remain in Ayodhya.
Removal of the PAC might also help Mayavati placate her uneasy Muslim supporters as several organisations, including the Central Sunni Waqf Board, have accused the PAC of communal bias.
Raised in 1940 as the Uttar Pradesh Military Police, it was restructured in 1948 following its merger with the State Armed Constabulary and given its present name. While winning laurels in anti-insurgency operations in the Northeast, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, the PAC has been repeatedly indicted for its brutalities in dealing with civilians, especially during communal riots.
During the 1987 Meerut riots, it was charged with the killing of 42 Muslims in Hashimpura village. PAC men were also charged with rape and murder after the Muzaffarnagar firing during the Uttarankhand agitation of 1995.
“These were not isolated instances. The behaviour of the PAC was condemned in 1978 in Aligarh, in 1980 in Moradabad, in 1982 in Meerut, in 1986 in Barabanki, and in 1990 in Aligarh again,” said Zafaryab Jilani, convener of the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee. He has been demanding removal of the PAC from Ayodhya since 1992, when PAC jawans allegedly lent a hand in pulling down the Babri Masjid.
Jilani regretted that despite clear indictment of the PAC men during high-level inquires, no action was taken against them. A section of the police top brass shares this view. In the Hashimpura case, the state CID had indicted 66 PAC personnel after four years of inquiry but the government took another two years to sanction their prosecution.
“Prosecution was sanctioned in only 19 cases and the others were let off with reprimands. All the 19 men still serve in the PAC and their whereabouts are known, but the summons and non-bailable warrants issued by the trial court have not been served till date,” a home department official said. In February 1999, the court declared them absconders and ordered their properties confiscated, but orders have not been implemented.
While a majority in the police top brass favoured exemplary punishment to the PAC jawans involved in the mini-revolt, some of them advised moderation. “(The) PAC is a disciplined force and any deviation has to be dealt with a firm hand. But there is also a need to ensure that the PAC personnel get better service conditions. They live in tents, away from their families, while their counterparts in the civil police lead a normal family life,” said Shree Ram Arun, former director-general of UP police.