Mumbai: Contrary to the claim made by local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and police, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has found that the former Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable Chetan Singh Chaudhary – who allegedly gunned down his senior officer and three Muslim passengers in the Jaipur-Mumbai Central Express on July 31 – is mentally ‘sane and stable’.
In the charge sheet which is over 1,000 pages long, filed before a local court in Mumbai suburbs, the GRP has relied on over 150 witnesses to come to this conclusion.
Calling its investigation “foolproof” a senior GRP official told The Wire that their investigation has found out that 33-year-old Chaudhary was fully aware of the outcome of his act.
“Yet he pressed the trigger and killed people,” the officer, privy to the investigation, told The Wire.
A part of the shocking incident, video-graphed by fellow passengers, showed how Chaudhary went on firing at three passengers—all Muslim men with beards – across nine carriages. The three passengers – Abdul Kadar Mohamed Hussain Bhanpurawala, Syed Saifuddin, and Asgar Abbas Sheikh – had died right at the spot.
His senior ASI Tika Ram Meena, the investigation shows, was killed by Chaudhary after he was denied leave from duty on the fateful night.
The police claim that while Meena could have been killed out of anger, the rest three killings were selective in nature. Both Meena and Chaudhary were deployed in the train for security. And the investigation shows that the firing incident took place soon after an argument between Kumar and Ram broke out.
One of the witnesses, a passenger, has claimed that Chaudhary had also forced a burqa-clad passenger to chant ‘Jai Mata Di’ at a gunpoint.
In a purported video, which the police have now used as a crucial piece of evidence, Chaudhary could be seen speaking to passengers while standing over Asghar’s bloodied body.
Chaudhary is heard saying: “Pakistan se operate hue hain, tumhari media, yahi media coverage dikha rahi hai hai, pata chal raha hai unko, sab pata chal raha hai, inke aaqa hai wahan… Agar vote dena hai, agar Hindustan me rehna hai, toh mai kehta hoon, Modi aur Yogi, ye do hain, aur aapke Thackeray.”
(‘They operate from Pakistan, this is what the media of the country is showing, they have found out, they know everything, their leaders are there… If you want to vote, if you want to live in India, then I say, Modi and Yogi, these are the two, and your Thackeray’)
At the time of submitting the charge sheet before the Borivali metropolitan magistrate court, the GRP told the court that Chaudhary was not brought to the court but produced through video conferencing as it might not be safe for him.
Initially, the railways had harped on Chaudhary’s mental health but had eventually termed his act as a heinous crime. He was dismissed from service in the month of August.
Soon after the incident, Chaudhary was booked under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code for murder, along with sections of the Arms Act and the Indian Railways Act. At the time of his first production before a magistrate court on August 2, the police had chosen a diametrically opposite narrative to what was in the public domain. The remand copy did not make any mention of the video that clearly showed his communally-charged speech. The remand, on the other hand, entirely focused on Chaudhary’s “illness” and indicates his unstable mind which led him to conduct the extreme action.
A few days later, following criticism, the police had added sections 153A, 341 and 342 of the IPC and 151, 152 and 153 of Indian Railways Act. Section 153 A is for “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion…”
In the chargesheet, the police have now added sections like 364 (kidnapping for murder), 427 (mischief and causing loss), 506 (2) (death threats) of the IPC and Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Although Meena, who belongs to the Adivasi community from Rajasthan, was killed in the attack, sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act have not been applied in the case.
The police claim that they have managed a good number of both direct and circumstantial witnesses in the case. The case is next scheduled for hearing on November 2.