Four days after a giving a 'clean chit' to a policeman in eastern UP's Basti district - he was accused of stalking a woman, filing false cases against her and her family, and almost driving them to suicide - local police have arrested him, and said that they will now prosecute him.
"Based on evidence collected so far, we have arrested Sub Inspector Deepak Singh and we are sending him to jail. This is also being done based on preliminary findings of a high-level committee set up to look into the matter," Ashish Shrivastava, the newly-appointed police chief of Basti, said in a video statement posted on Twitter.
The police's U-turn comes days after Hemraj Meena, the now-transferred Basti SP, tweeted absolving Deepak Singh of any wrongdoing. He claimed, instead, that there was no truth in the allegations by the woman and her family
In her complaint to Hemraj Meena, the woman accused Sub Inspector Singh of taking her phone number during a drive to check on the use of face masks. This was in March last year, during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Since then, the woman said, Sub Inspector Singh started sending inappropriate messages and pressuring her for a meeting. The woman said she did not respond and, later, blocked his number.
After this, she said at least eight police cases were filed against her and her family. She said "the actions of the Sub Inspector had driven the family to despair with no option but suicide".
Hemraj Meena, though, disputed the woman's claims after an 'inquiry'.
"An incident happened on June 13 last year when a revenue team went to a village to measure a road. Some locals tried to create a ruckus and Sub Inspector Deepak Singh, who was posted as the local in-charge, responded. Government officials had been taken hostage by the villagers, and then senior officials had also gone to the spot," Hemraj Meena said in a video statement on March 18.
"A case was later filed over this incident, which includes this woman and her brother, and others. The brother also has two other cases against his name - filed by the family's neighbours in 2020 over a land dispute," he added.
Hemraj Meena also said there was no truth in the woman's allegations.
"The woman later alleged Sub Inspector Singh used to pressure her to talk over the phone. I was told of this and ordered an inquiry. The inquiry was comprehensive and established that the allegations were untrue. The woman's brother had spoken with the Sub Inspector and the mobile number he used was shown by the woman later as hers. The woman also gave us a printout of WhatsApp chats she said were from the Sub Inspector, but our inquiry found the number used did not belong to the Sub Inspector," he said.
"However, I ensured the concerned policeman was removed from his post. But we found no truth in the woman's allegations or the allegation that the Sub Inspector registered multiple cases against her family," he added.
The police's actions led to outrage, after which a senior official - an Additional Director General of Police - visited Basti on Saturday. The story also reportedly reached the offices of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Hemraj Meena was removed as Basti police chief on Saturday night. The concerned Sub Inspector and his immediate superior, an Inspector, were both suspended.
"I am hopeful of justice now but I fear this matter will die down unless you keep up the pressure. If I am guilty of filing a wrong complaint even by one per cent, I should be publicly hanged. But no cop should be able to conspire in such a manner. I want strict action against the Sub Inspector so such a person does not rise through the ranks again. I do not want any other woman, or their family, to suffer," the woman said in a statement to the media on Saturday.