Inquiry ordered against Maharashtra police for torturing teacher and illegal detention in Lonavla
18 January 2009
LONAVALA:18th Jan- Acting on a directive from the State Minorities’ Commission, the Pune Rural Police has initiated an inquiry against the policemen who allegedly beat up a Catholic priest, Father Wilfred V Fernandes, of St Joseph’s Church in Lonavla last month.
Fernandes has not lodged a police complaint but he told TOI that the cops him on his hand with belts and confined him in a lock-up at the Lonavla City police station on December 12, 2008.
The Catholic Association in Pune has complained to the commission and the Catholic Secular Front (CSF) in Mumbai threatened to stage a dharna at the rural police HQ, demanding action against the policemen.
But the BJP’s Lonavala unit has demanded that Fernandes, also the manager of St Joseph’s Primary School, be transferred for allegedly hitting eight-year-old student, Yash Khairnar, with a ruler. The Lonavla police has registered a non-cognisable offence against Fernandes for beating up the Std III student on December 11.
Lonavla DSP Shashikant Mane has been appointed to conduct an inquiry, ASP (Pune Rural) Ashok Morale said, “According to our information, the policemen had not beaten up Fernandes,” Morale said. Inquiry officer Mane said he began the probe on January 9 and recorded the statements of three persons.
Fernandes told TOI that he had punished seven students, including Khairnar, by hitting them on their calves with a ruler for misbehaviour in class.
“Next day, on December 12, parents of these students called on me. I said that their wards were punished for unruly behaviour. Some parents told me that beating up a child with a ruler was against the law. I tendered an apology which most parents accepted,” Fernandes said. “But BJP activists instigated the parents and I went to the police station,” he said.
The cops were initially polite but after a mob entered the police station, they started abusing him. “The policemen put me in the lock-up and took away my mobile. I removed my robe as I was afraid the mob would rip it off me. The cops took a belt and hit my hand four times in front of all the people,” Fernandes said.
Fernandes said he was detained between 9.30 am and 1.30 pm. “Inspector Sudam Darekar reached the police station in the afternoon and it was only after headmistress Therese George, sought the intervention of the school management in Pune that I was released,” he added.