New Delhi: The Delhi police on Wednesday (July 19) claimed to have worked out the case of social activist Shabnam Hashmi who was threatened by a caller who identified himself as “sub-inspector Sandip Malik from Lajpat Nagar police station.”
The police has arrested a 41-year-old man who it said used to make phone calls to unknown numbers at night after consuming liquor.
Romil Baaniya, the deputy commissioner of police (south east Delhi), said the man, identified as Harender Malik, a resident of Uttaranchal Colony in Loni, Ghaziabad, would call unknown numbers in order to speak to women. “He is still unmarried and has a tendency to call random mobile numbers and if his calls are picked up by women, he used to say obscene and vulgar things to them and if they would protest, he used to threaten them by impersonating to be a police official,” the officer said.
In the case of Hashmi, the officer said, the accused had even threatened to kill those who did not have identity or residence proof.
Following a complaint by Hashmi to the police commissioner on July 15, a team of special staff of the district was formed, which apprehended the accused – who is an expert mechanic of Japanese knitting machines – and recovered the phone he used to threaten the women’s rights activist.
Earlier, the case had taken a curious turn police investigations revealing that while an officer by the name of Sandip Malik – as the accused had identified himself in a conversation with Hashmi on July 14 – was indeed posted in the Lajpat Nagar police station, his rank was that of a constable and not a sub inspector.
The incident had caused quite a stir since the accused, identifying himself as a cop, had threatened to kill Hashmi and claimed that under a “ghero aur maaro (surround and kill)” policy, the cops were now entitled to “eliminate” anyone who did not possess a valid address and identity proof – in particular an Aadhaar number.
The Wire had earlier reported how Hashmi was threatened by the man when she called him on the night of July 14 to know why the husband of a woman, who learns stitching at a training centre run by the NGO Pehchan at Jaitpur in south east Delhi, had been summoned at a late hour by him.
During the conversation, the officer who appeared to be in a state of drunken stupor, had identified himself as “sub inspector Sandip Malik from Lajpat Nagar police station”.
On being abused and threatened by him, Hashmi disconnected the call. She later installed a call recorder on her phone, called him and recorded their subsequent conversation.
Hashmi told The Wire that even though towards the end of the recorded conversation the officer had asked her to report to the police station on the morning of July 15, she did not plan on doing so as she and the woman both resided in Jaitpur, which came under the Madanpur Khadar police station and not Lajpat Nagar.
However, she added, when she once again called on the number, she was curtly told by the person who answered that there was no one by the name of Sandip Malik there.
Upon asking someone from her NGO Anhad – who is well versed with the working of the police – to go to the station, Hashmi learnt that there was a constable and not a sub inspector by that name.
Hashmi said she had also checked the number from which the call was made to her with the help of the mobile application Truecaller, which showed that the number was listed under the name of Ashish Kumar and “police.”
Hashmi said she then decided to let the police probe the matter further and had on July 15 itself written a letter to police commissioner Amulya Patnaik.
“The following day (July 16), I received a call from deputy commissioner of police (south east) Romil Baaniya that he has received information about the threat and would begin the probe as soon as he would receive the complaint from the commissioner’s office,” she said.
Meanwhile, Baaniya had gone on record before the media to confirm that while a constable by the same name does exist, “he does not use the phone number in question.”
Baaniya had also stated that he was yet to receive the audio recording or the complaint sent by Hashmi to the police commissioner.
Stating that “the phone owner was not taking the call”, he said, the police would reach him. “Once we have the audio recording, we will get it verified. In case the audio reveals any offence, we will pursue legal action,” the officer was quoted as saying.
Later the police alleged that Harender Malik, who had completed BA second year from Shamli in Uttar Pradesh and had come to Delhi in 2000, was tracked as the accused. He had been using the number in question since January.