In a shocking incident, a car with a woman breastfeeding her seven-month-old baby inside was towed away by Mumbai Traffic Police personnel, inviting widespread condemnation, which prompted the police to suspend one of its constables and order a probe.
The incident which occurred on Friday evening on the busy S.V. Road, in Malad (West), came to light on Saturday when a purported video clip of it went viral on social media. The video was reportedly recorded by her husband.
The woman had gone to Malad for some work with her husband and the child and parked the car on the busy S V Road.
As the car was obstructing the vehicular movement, the traffic police arrived at the spot with a towing van.
The video shows the woman and her baby sitting on the rear seat of the car and the traffic police towing it away. The woman, whose identity is not available, was sitting in her white car with her seven-month-old child when a towing van suddenly picked it up and started towing it away.
Onlookers, who can be heard shouting and protesting the police action, asked constable Shashank Rane, who was accompanying the towing van, to stop it.
She begged and pleaded to stop the towing with Rane, who was not wearing his name badge while on duty, which is also against the rules of the Maharashtra Police.
Earlier, the cop even grinned and confirmed his name and the woman was also requested to alight from the vehicle before it was towed away, but she refused as she was nursing her child and was unwell herself.
The video clip also shows the woman shouting at the police and telling them she was unwell and feeding her child.
The woman flashed what was a medical prescription from the window and told the videographer that she was sick and was breastfeeding her hungry child, which was visible as the car was towed away mercilessly.
However, despite pleas by the videographer and others to the traffic cop to stop towing as something untoward could happen to both woman and child, he appeared unconcerned and continued speaking over his mobile phone.
The policeman reportedly also claimed to have a video to counter the other side's version.
The woman said that two other vehicles parked there were not picked and her car was chosen for towing without listening to her desperate pleas.
"They ignored the two other vehicles, but towed away a car in which a woman with an infant was sitting. They don't have guts to take action against the other vehicles here," she said from the moving car.
The official said the couple was taken to the police station where the woman's husband paid a fine for unauthorised parking and the issue was sorted out.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar said the traffic police constable, who was identified as Shashank Rane by the person who shot the video, had been suspended pending an inquiry report.
"It will be dealt with appropriately and sternly after the preliminary report is received within 24 hours," Kumar said.
The DCP (Traffic), western suburbs, has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report by tomorrow, Kumar said.
It has been prima facie noticed that safety of the woman and the child were endangered in the incident. Hence, pending inquiry, the constable is being placed under suspension, he said.
A decision about departmental action against him will be taken after the report is received, Kumar said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also heads the Home portfolio, came under severe attack from various political parties after the incident.
Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's ally Shiv Sena, opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party strongly criticised the incident and demanded action against the guilty.