If the Assam Police and a section of the media is to be believed, on 2 February 2013, the Guwahati City Police had arrested a ‘most wanted fraudster’ who had apparently, among other allegations, posed as a RAW agent, defrauded people of lakhs of rupees and was in the habit of disappearing without paying hotel bills.
“Most Wanted Fraudster Arrested in Guwahati,” screamed The Times of India headline.
“Top columnist, top fraud? The curious case of Nilim Dutta,” asked Firstpost.India.
“Dutta would have managed to escape had he not hurt himself in both his legs while jumping out of the first-floor balcony when the police raided the flat which he had taken on rent,” reported The Indian Express.
I have been told, that “Nilim Dutta” trended for 4 days on twitter.
But is the truth what the police or media claimed to be?
What happened on the night of 2 February 2013?
It was a little before 9 pm on a Saturday, 2nd February 2013. I was in a first floor flat in an apartment block in Six Mile in Guwahati. It was newly built and I had arrived there in the afternoon to oversee the 3 bedroom flat being comfortably furnished. In the past few months, many associates & colleagues, not based in Guwahati, had travelled in an out of the city on assignments in connection with the ethnic conflict in Kokrajhar and Chirang and it became essential to put up a ‘transit camp’ for them in the city where we could also meet and confer on the agenda at hand. The flat had just been taken a few days earlier on lease and was being readied to accommodate them whenever they were in Guwahati, which was quite frequently then.
My mother and sisters arrived there later in the evening to assist me with readying the flat, particularly in setting up the kitchen. As it appeared we shall be late getting back home, we ordered food and decided to have dinner there. Meanwhile, I had been tweeting and working in one of the bedrooms when a little before 9 pm the doorbell rang. I believe my mother opened the door.
What I heard was a loud altercation followed by a scream from my mother. Alarmed, I stepped out into the corridor leading to the hall just in time to see a bunch of policemen rushing in and ASI Arun Baruah (who had met me once earlier) physically assaulting my mother. As she fell down on the floor from the force of the policeman’s blow, bleeding from her mouth, my sisters too rushed to her side. Naturally, I was incensed and physically tried pushing out the policemen from the flat. This led to a brief but vicious scuffle and ASI Arun Baruah and another policeman (I later found out his identity in the PS) pushed me off from the first floor landing, just outside the entrance to the flat, down on to the concrete floored basement car parking. ASI Arun Baruah shouted, “Let the ******* die. We can claim he tried to escape and killed himself in the fall.” I did hang on for a few moments, not letting go of the policemen as I had grabbed them too, but unable to get a foothold as I dangled there and and as my grip was prised away, I plummeted down, landing in the basement below bare feet and with my heels hitting the concrete first. Both my heel bones (I thought ankles when I tweeted) were instantly shattered and I perhaps passed out for a minute or so. When I regained consciousness, I found kicks and blows, including from a wooden stick, raining on me and that I couldn’t stand due to excruciating pain in my legs. I tried to protect my head by trying to ward off the blows as best as I could with my bare hands. The effort did help but left me with a fractured ring finger of my right hand. This is when my mother and sisters physically tried to prevent the policemen from assaulting me. Arun Baruah was shouting and threatening, “I will shoot you all,” to which my mother shouted back, “I dare you to.” The shouts and commotion of the continuing scuffle also brought on our neighbours to the scene. The gathered crowd was incensed seeing the policemen assaulting a badly injured man lying on the ground and three women who were trying to prevent them from doing so. There wasn’t a single policewoman who had accompanied them. As the crowd surrounded the policemen and angrily intervened, the policemen backed off momentarily and Arun Baruah frantically rang the Officer-in-Charge of Dispur Police Station to send reinforcements, including women police constables. It was only then, after about 15 minutes, that Officer-in-Charge of the Dispur PS arrived with women constables and reinforcements.
The moment the policewomen arrived, they straight away rushed to assault my mother and sisters again, while a couple of policemen tried to drag me, grabbing my hands, to one of their vehicles, cursing that I was feigning injury. As the gathered crowd of neighbours once again stepped in angrily, the police desisted from any further assault and tried to take me to the Dispur PS, this time lifting and carrying, me as they should an injured man who couldn’t walk, to one of their waiting patrol vehicles. My sisters refused to let them take me alone and voluntarily accompanied me to the Dispur PS.
As I was being driven out from the apartment block in a police “Sumo”, I took my tab from my sister, Smita, and tweeted my last tweets of 2 February 2013, making public the assault and my impending arrest.
When we reached the Dispur PS, we saw that there was already a crowd of media persons and TV crew from the local channels. This makes it evident that my arrest was a planned affair and the media blitz was a part of the design against me. While the media persons were being enthusiastically briefed on my sins and how prized a catch I was, the scene inside the PS was one of utter bedlam as I berated them and questioned their unlawful action. This resulted in further assaults on us and another scuffle inside the PS ensued, which abruptly ended with the arrival of SSP Anand Prakash Tiwari in a hideously purple shirt and chocolate brown trousers. My sister, Smita, angrily confronted him and demanded to know how could such illicit acts of brutality be unleashed? Trying to calm her down several times and failing, he escaped to the DSP’s chamber and soon made a couple of constables to carry me and sit me down on the sofa there, where another senior city police official was present with SSP Tiwari. In fact, he happened to be an old acquaintance and one who was instrumental in another spate of malafide prosecution against me a decade ago. I taunted him asking what happened to those cases and why the courts chose to either acquit me in a speedy trial or quash those. Refusing to get into an altercation with me, SSP Tiwari asked the Officier-in-Charge of Dispur PS to immediately take me to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) for treatment. That was the last I saw of him in person. Even though there were many triumphant claims that SSP Tiwari had allegedly made to the media, in the footage from Prime News I only saw him saying that were allegations but it was too early to say anything. I was a celebrity of sorts by the time I reached Guwahati Central Jail next evening.
If the trauma and rage made me oblivious to my injuries and the excruciating pain initially, by the time I reached GMCH at about midnight, my condition deteriorated and I started nauseating. I was put on an IV drip and then taken for X-Rays and CT Scans of the many injuries I had sustained from the fall and assault. Both my legs were then encased in a plaster cast to just below the knees. My sisters, who too were brought to GMCH were already taken back to the PS. At about 4 am on the morning of 3 February 2013, the police surprisingly took me back to the PS with all my medical records even though I wasn’t even in a state to sit up. There at the PS, I was laid down on a bench. My sister Smita sat down cushioning my head on her lap, while Janaki did the same for my plaster-encased legs. I fell asleep under the effect of painkillers and sedatives for about a couple of hours perhaps.
As the morning of 3 February 2013 stirred to life, the next episode of the drama began with the arrival of ASI Arun Baruah at about 9 am. He imperiously declared that there will be a ‘flood’ of cases. I was promised at least three-dozen cases and that it would be years before I will be able to get out. He also gloated that the entire ‘world’ is now condemning me, having come to know my dark deeds, which he dared to expose before the media and arrest me for. We still didn’t know exactly what we have been detained and were now going to be arrested for, although I began to have inkling about it. There was a stream of senior police officials who came to ‘take a look’ at their ‘prized catch’. A few indulged us in polite chit-chat, while a few others, whom I have personally known, were visibly embarrassed and said they found this whole thing inexplicable. They were the ones who informed us that our ‘friends’ across the country have kept the phone lines buzzing demanding to know what has happened.
Then there were clueless reporters who swallowed all the lies Arun Baruah and a few others at the PS were dishing out. None of them bothered to check the FIRs or ask the police any searching questions. The only question most of them asked me was whether I really was a RAW official and if not, why did I claim to be one. I wasn’t aware till then that none of the FIRs had even a word of such accusations against me but then this was so stupid an allegation that after a while I refused to take it with any seriousness. Replying from the bench I had been lying on, I told a young lady reporter who had asked me the same question that I was a victim of conspiracy and turf war and that this was done to malign me and prevent me from becoming the Secretary, RAW in future. She nodded solemnly with wide-eyed wonder and furiously scribbled in her note pad. Such a farce indeed was the state of things on the Sunday morning of 3 February, 2013.
At about 11 am, however, all reporters and hangers on were abruptly shooed away from the room as a dignified, neatly dressed middle-aged gentleman entered the room. He had an air of unmistakable authority and the policemen in the room scrambled to their feet, some throwing up a hurried salute. He glanced at me for a few moments, before sitting down in a chair with his back towards me and asked for the FIRs/case diaries of the cases that have been registered against me. He quickly read through a slim sheaf of papers and asked Arun Baruah, “But I was told he has claimed himself to be a RAW official? Where is that case?” Arun Baruah replied that he has heard that it is all over the internet and that I have a website where I have even put in my designation as ‘Director of RAW’. On being asked for any printouts etc of the said website, Arun Baruah pointed to me and said that he was about to begin his interrogation to obtain all information about it. The gentleman then turned his chair towards me and asked me how I had sustained my injuries and whether I had tried to escape jumping off from a building. I replied in the negative and said it was Arun Baruah and another who pushed me off. This was met with a howl of protest and accusations from the policemen that I was lying.
The gentleman then asked me why I had claimed to be the ‘Director of RAW’. I replied firmly that I had not, and that if there was any website where this was claimed as such, it was ‘news’ to me and I certainly wasn’t aware of one. I told him that I am also a published columnist in the national print media, and a Google search would instantly reveal my real identity. How could I even claim to be the ‘Director of RAW’? I told him that I can show it to him instantly if I was handed back my ‘tab’ which Arun Baruah had taken away from my sister the previous night (we were yet to be formally arrested till then and a seizure list wasn’t yet prepared). He replied that they shall have my tab examined later but I can show him from his own smartphone and extended it to my hand. Quickly, over the next 10-15 minutes, I surfed using his phone and took him through much of the online content about my writings etc and my blog, Chanakya’s Neeti where my bio was unmistakably available to anyone who cared to check. He then asked a few questions about the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation and my work. He took my tab from Arun Baruah and quickly scrolled through my call lists to check whether what I said about people I claimed to know was substantiated. A policeman interrupted us, politely inviting the gentleman to sit in the DSP’s chamber. He brusquely dismissed the policeman saying he wanted to get everything from me straight. He then asked me a few more questions, important ones, regarding my intervention in the situation arising out of the ethnic conflict in the BTC districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang and appeared satisfied. It was he, who first informed me that all hell has broken loose outside and that media was having a field day as police, including the SSP Guwahati, has broken to the media that the they have apprehended a ‘most wanted’ criminal who has for long been posing as a senior RAW official and defrauding people. It was also the same gentleman who told me that there were actually only 2 cases against me till that moment and both looked extremely dubious. He said that his sole interest in the matter had arisen from the allegations that I had claimed to be a senior RAW or intelligence official and from my involvement in sensitive political issues. He stood up and extended his hand to me and as we shook hands, said to me, “Young man, either someone has made a big screw-up somewhere or you have screwed someone nasty rather badly to have made such enemies. I will see to it that the intelligence agencies aren’t unnecessarily dragged into this mess. Also, you have some staunch well wishers and I am sure everything will end well. Take care.” Saying that, he turned to Arun Baruah, and with barely hidden contempt, coldly told him to inform his superiors not to waste his time again with stupid matters. He then strode out of the room without looking back, leaving Arun Baruah and the rest of the policemen ashen faced and rather subdued. The gentleman did not reveal to me who he was but I could sense that the shit had unmistakably hit the fan.
I began to comprehend that all the ‘strong evidence’ that I had allegedly claimed to be a ‘senior RAW official’, and which the police triumphantly revealed to the media, was actually my biographical information on several webpages that I was the “Executive Director of the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation.” Unfortunately for them, that indeed is true, still. Unfortunately for them, the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation also doesn’t come under the Cabinet Secretariat or report to the Prime Minister. I was astounded (and still am) as to how could someone be so incredibly stupid?
Such stupidity, however, isn’t unique. Even during Binayak Sen’s trial, the prosecution, in their effort to portray the Sens as part of a sinister international terror network, produced in court an e-mail Ilina Sen had written to a Walter Fernandes of the ISI. Never mind that the said ISI happened to be the Indian Social Institute in Delhi and Walter Fernandes an eminent sociologist, scholar and activist. And that could happen to someone of even Binayak Sen’s stature. But closer home, there are many more instances when such attempts have been made by the police, as I have discovered with incontrovertible evidence, which I shall now slowly reveal over the next few weeks.
What happened to me wasn’t a humongous ‘screw-up’ but a sinister attempt to implicate me in false cases and tarnish my public image, distorting or even manufacturing facts. Am I to believe that even senior police officials were so stupid to mistake the Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation for RAW? What is pathetic is that the media swallowed the lies doled out by the police hook, line and sinker, without bothering to verify what the actual allegations turned out to be as presented to the court for our remand.
With the bubble of RAW allegation self-destructing badly, the police was desperate to nail me in whatever possible way, to ensure that I remained behind bars for at least sometime, denying me the opportunity to counter the media trial being conducted against me with their not so insubstantial assistance.
So what was that I was finally arrested for?
I reproduce below, word-for-word the FIRs of the cases which I was arrested in. The terrible grammar, composition and stupid spelling errors aren’t at all mine, as they have been reproduced here unedited.
Dispur P.S. Case No. 230/2013 u/s 333/326/294/34 of IPC registered on 03/02/2013
Dispur Police Station
Dated: 3 February 2013
I beg to respectfully inform you that I, today on 02/02/2013, at about 8:10 pm, with regard to Dispur P.S. case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406 IPC went to arrest the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta who had been absconding for a long period after receiving secret information that he has been hiding in the rented flat of one Mujibur Rehman, resident of Juripar, in the 3rd Block, 1st flore, Room No 108 (Pan Enclave) taking along colleague staff HC B. Borah, HG Koikabad Ahmed, Women Cobra Party SI Junali Das, WPC Manju Kalita, WPC Biju Moni Phukan and UBC B.K. Barman. The moment we arrived at his flat, the lights of the house were switched off and even though the accused tried to escape through the back door, jumping from the 1st flore, we were able to tactfully capture him. He was injured in both his legs as a result of jumping from the flat and he is son of the accused, Nilim Dutta.
At that moment, the mother of the accused Smti. Mina Dutta, his wife Smti. Sunita Dutta, and their maid servant Smti. Janaki Bodo prevented us from carrying out our official duty and while trying to prevent us from taking the accused Shri Nilim Dutta into custody, not only seriously injured HC B. Borah, WPC Manju Kalita, UBC B.K. Barman by biting them, but also instigated the neighbours against us and verbally abused us using foul language. Even so, we managed to bring the accused to the police station. Accused Smti. Mina Dutta ran away from the crime scene and accused Nilim Dutta was sent off to the GMCH and treated.
Hence a case should be registered against the accused Nilim Dutta, Sunita Dutta, Mina Dutta and Janaki Bodo and necessary action should be taken.
Let me now point out the difficulties in this piece of fiction.
If the Assam Police is to be believed, as per the FIR, the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta, who happens to be a fugitive from justice, besides being my father, jumps off from the 1st floor to escape the police and on hitting the ground and breaking his legs, magically turns into his own son, who happens to be yours truly, whom the police manages to ‘tactfully capture’.
Please note the FIR says, “The moment we arrived at his flat, the lights of the house were switched off and even though the accused tried to escape through the back door, jumping from the 1st flore, we were able to tactfully capture him. He was injured in both his legs as a result of jumping from the flat and he is son of the accused, Nilim Dutta.”
Also, what the Assam Police is still unable to explain is, if I was not even the accused in the Dispur P.S. Case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406 of IPC, why did they ‘capture’ me?
But these aren’t the only difficulties they can’t wish away.
I wasn’t a fugitive from justice. As recently as the evening of 16 November 2012, I appeared on the live TV debate on DY365 along with Bhupen Bora, who happens to be the Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Home for Government of Assam, and who played a instrumental role in dealing firmly with the law & order situation in Kokrajhar and Chirang arising out of the ethnic violence there. More importantly, I was in almost daily contact with the top echelons of government responsible for law & order situation there, through meetings in persons, telephonic conversations and, for record, through e-mails.
That being the reality, why would I even jump from the 1st floor of a building to escape the police?
And since I did not jump from the 1st floor of the building to escape the police, how were my heels shattered from a fall?
But if in case I really was the one who injured his legs from the fall after jumping off the 1st floor of the building, why was I then arrested in this case u/s 333 & 326 which applies to “voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty” and “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means” respectively?
The FIR also names as accused my mother Smti. Mina Dutta, Smti. Janaki Bodo, and a non-existent wife, Smti. Suniti Dutta (surprisingly again, my sister Smita Dutta was arrested instead of my mythical wife Suniti Dutta) who, as claimed by the FIR, had seriously injured the policemen and policewomen by ‘biting’ them.
Thus if the Assam Police is to be believed, as per their own FIR, three unarmed women inflicted ‘grievous wounds’ on three of their able bodied personnel by non-existent ‘dangerous weapons’? Or are the teeth of my mother and sisters the ‘dangerous weapons’ with which such ‘grievous injuries’ were inflicted on the police personnel that there is no trace of even a medical record of the injuries or wounds?
If the Assam Police is to be believed, as per their own FIR, one of the accused, Smti. Mina Dutta, who happens to be my mother, after inflicting grievous wounds on the police personnel managed to escape being ‘tactfully captured’ unlike I was. Thus, if claims of the police is to be believed, a frail, 65 year old woman suffering from congenital heart condition (ASD) and profusely bleeding from brutal police assault can inflict grievous injuries on three well built police personnel with non-existent dangerous weapons, unless those turns out to be her teeth.
The Assam Police must have been mightily scared of her as they still failed to arrest her when she went to the police station the next day, on 3 February 2013, to file FIRs against the erring police personnel (which the police, again unlawfully, refused to register) or went to meet her children in court when they were taken there to be produced before the judicial magistrate. They also, perhaps out of fear of being bitten again, failed to arrest my father, Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta too, who accompanied her, and who happened to be the accused whom the police had gone to arrest in the first place.
If this isn’t malafide prosecution what is?
But what was the Dispur P.S. case No. 2432/2012 u/s 420/406 IPC for which ASI Arun Baruah went to arrest the accused Shri Dulal Chandra Dutta who happens to be my father?