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Lure of lucre@Mumbai police’s Hall of Shame

Sunday, January 10, 2010 12:49:34 PM, Qaid Najmi, IANS

Sr. Police Inspector Pradeep Sharma

Mumbai ‘encounter’ specialist, 5 others jailed till Jan 14: A Mumbai court Friday remanded former high-profile police ‘encounter’ specialist Pradeep Sharma and five others in police custody till Jan 14 after they were arrested for a killing in a fake shootout.... Read Full

Mumbai: The arrest of ace Mumbai cop ‘encounter specialist’ Pradeep Sharma, with two other police officers, for killing a man in a staged gunfight in 2006 has not caused any flurry among the ordinary Mumbaikar.


For, there have been many other bigger officers in commanding positions - police commissioners and above - who have been disgraced for various reasons in the past.


Last fortnight, a group of five police officers were found eating, drinking and dancing in a Christmas party thrown by a mafia don. The television footage left people in little doubt whose party the cops belonged to.


With mega-bucks all around, big business, Bollywood and oodles of glamour, the merciless mafia - of all colours - and a police force willing to look the ‘other way’ — all makes Mumbai sinfully attractive to all.


The lure of lucre has not spared even high-ranking officials who were caught in various shady dealings - a few escaped punishment while others continue their encounters with the law.


Chhota Rajan Nikhalje, an absconding mafia don, speaking to some television channels some time ago from an unknown location, shocked viewers by recounting how some police officers (he named Pradeep Sharma) were on the mafia payroll and how they worked to suit the interests of their paymasters.


A grim Chief Minister Ashok Chavan Friday said that “officers like (Pradeep) Sharma were a blot on the entire police force”.


Reacting to the arrests, Chavan said the government would take necessary steps to ensure the police force is not demoralised by such officers.


The Mumbai Police’s Hall of Shame has some prominent occupants.


They include former city Police Commissioner R.S. Sharma who was nabbed in connection with the infamous multi-billion rupees Telgi fake stamp-papers scam and discharged from the case in 2007.


Another former Police Commissioner R.D. Tyagi was slapped with murder charges in the Sulaiman Bakery firing case, and is currently on bail as the matter continues in the court.


The former joint Police Commissioner of crime, S.S. Wagal was also nabbed in connection with the Telgi scam and is still undergoing trial.

But the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Pradeep Sawant, who was also implicated in the same case, got a discharge and is now back in service as Anti-Terrorist Squad DCP.


A former Additional Director-General of Police with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Rahul Gopal was caught by his own department after unaccounted cash of Rs.100,000 was found in his custody. He was arrested and is now out on bail.


A former Additional Police Commissioner A.K. Jain was also found guilty in an ACB case and dismissed from service 12 years ago.


Another Additional Commissioner of Police Bipin Behari faced suspension in 2008 for framing a builder Rajendra Chaturvedi in a false case.


The former DGP S.S. Virk of Punjab and Maharashtra - the only person to hold the top police post in two states in the country - was also under a cloud with allegations of corruption against him.


However, the Punjab police could not gather sufficient evidence to nail him and the highly-decorated daredevil officer was repatriated to his Maharashtra home cadre and became DGP.


Besides these officers who faced corruption charges, there were the ‘elite’ among the lower ranks - the trigger-happy ‘encounter specialists’ - who were idolized by the public and lionized by the media.


Among them were; Sub-Inspector Daya Nayak, currently under suspension in an ACB inquiry with 90 encounter killings to his credit (and a movie based on his exploits “Ab Tak Chhappan”).


Then, assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze, accused of murder and fabricating evidence in the Khwaja Yunus murder case, resigned. His resignation has not yet been accepted.


There is Praful Bhosale, also implicated in the Khwaja Yunus case. He is under suspension but there is lack of sufficient evidence against him, so he is likely to be reinstated.


Aslam Momin was sacked from the force in 2005 for alleged links with the mafia, especially the Dawood Ibrahim gang, but he has challenged it before the Bombay High Court.


Ravindra Angre spelt death in neighbouring Thane district, but was sent to jail after a builder complained against him for extortion, kidnapping and robbery. He is presently under suspension.


Former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro says that all these officers accused on various counts are the outcome of middle-class social pressures.


“The middle-class wants to be rid of goons, they pressurize the political leaders who in turn adopt a tough stand with the police and give them a free hand. In the process, vested interests develop and this is the outcome. Even the different gangs welcome the so-called ‘encounter specialists’ as they help eliminate rivals,” Ribeiro told IANS.


In his opinion, unless the top police brass like commissioners or DGPs are given a free hand to instil discipline, the situation will not change.


“It would be wrong to suggest that Maharashtra’s record of tarnished policemen is high - it suffers the same level of politicization as any other Indian state,” he asserted.


As far as corrupt practices go, the state police have ranked either first or second - the main competitor being the revenue department - in the ACB’s annual break-up of the most corrupt departments in the state.


Also, on an average, over a dozen inspector level cops are either suspended or dismissed from service in the state each year. The figures for the lower constabulary are much higher.











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