The latest round in the simmering battle of egos between the police and legislators Ram Kadam and Kshitij Thakur has gone to the cops, with the withdrawal of security cover for the two MLAs who assaulted assistant police inspector Sachin Suryavanshi inside the Vidhan Bhavan premises on March 19. Kadam and Thakur were jailed after they surrendered to the police on March 22.
When the two were released on bail on Thursday, March 28, they did not get their security cover back. Sources said four constables guarded Kadam round the clock in two shifts while one constable was seen occasionally following Thakur though he was officially never given protection. The days before that witnessed a see-saw battle of egos.
On March 19, a delegation led by Maharashtra Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal and Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and demanded strict action against the errant MLAs and also lamented the effect such incidents would have on the morale of the force.
The next day, a posse of policemen led by officers of the Mumbai Crime Branch laid a virtual siege to the Vidhan Bhavan premises demanding that the two MLAs surrender. But the two managed to get away by citing that two of the three officers who entered the Vidhan Bhavan did so without valid entry passes and demanded that they be suspended. Eventually, one of them Inspector KV Nigde of Unit I was suspended.
The MLAs also wrangled a face-saving compromise, agreeing to surrender the next day provided the police stepped back. Round 2 clearly belonged to Kadam and Thakur, as on the day they were granted bail, Suryavanshi was suspended for rude behaviour towards Thakur on March 18, when the whole drama started as the sub-inspector stopped the MLA on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link for speeding. Suryavanshi was summoned to the Vidhan Bhavan the next day to explain his position, when things got out of hand and 12 MLAs thrashed him outside the visitors’ gallery of the House.
The police, who were said to smarting from the blow, now seem to have gotten one back on the two legislators by withdrawing their security cover. While Mumbai police withdrew the four constables provided to Kadam the Thane police denied that Thakur ever had official police protection. “Till he was arrested Kadam enjoyed round-the-clock police protection but due to his criminal record and his attack on Suryavanshi we have decided to remove his protection cover,” said a senior officer who did not wish to be named. Madhukar Pandey, additional commissioner, protection and security, however, refused to get into the details of the development.
“As of now Ram Kadam’s security has been removed,” is all he would say. Thane Rural SP Anil Kumbhare, on the other hand denied that the police provided any security cover to Thakur. “No MLA in Thane rural has been given any police protection,” said Kumbhare. While Kadam and Thakur refused to comment on the issue, sources close to the former said the MNS MLA from Ghatkopar was not losing sleep over the withdrawal of security. “He doesn’t need any police cover,” said an aide. “If the cops do not want to give him protection, it is their wish. He is not bothered.”