MUMBAI: Wednesday may well go down in the annals of Mumbai police history as a black day. On a day when former ACP A K Jain perhaps became the first senior IPS officer in the city to be sentenced to five years in a bribery case, in another dubious first, no less than 32 policemen were suspended. All the 32 cops were caught allegedly accepting bribe from a single man on spy camera. Incidentally, the camera was installed by the gutsy victim himself.
The suspension order was issued after state home minister R R Patil ordered the Mumbai police commissioner to take immediate action in the case. The suspended cops are attached to Nehru Nagar police station.
The police personnel, right from the rank of police constables to assistant sub-inspectors, were suspended late on Wednesday after recorded footage showed them accepting money from Mohammed Khan (50), who was carrying out modification work at his friend’s ground-plus-one barrack at the Kurla (West) Refugee Camp.
The camera footage showed the cops collecting a total of Rs 45,000 over 10 days from Khan. The cops threatened him saying they would frame him in a case for carrying out illegal extension. Ironically, Khan wanted to demolish the mezzanine floor and convert the barrack into a flat structure.
When he first approached anti-corruption bureau (ACB) officials, they refused to accept the recording as evidence, though it showed cops allowing illegal work to be carried out for a meager bribe. When TOI contacted ACB additional director general Raj Khilnani, he said, “I will investigate why the officials did not accept the footage when Khan approached them.”
Over the past 10 days, the camera captured the policemen visiting Khan daily and threatening him. He was forced to shell out Rs 50 to Rs 150 to each cop, each time.
“The cops said they were collecting the money on behalf of their senior officers from Nehru Nagar police station. The spy camera was fixed 10 days ago and it clearly showed the purpose of the cops’ visits. They took the names of their senior officers who had sent them to collect the money so that I could continue carrying out the modification work,” Khan told TOI.
Khan further said the modification work was being carried out at his friend’s residence since March 9. When the cops learnt about it, they began to frequent the house daily. “When the matter got out of hand, I planned to fix a spy camera. A total of 35 policemen visited the place daily to collect money. I first submitted a copy of the footage to the ACB, but they refused to accept my complaint which, according to them, did not make for ‘proper’ evidence. The same footage was sent to higher officers in Mumbai police who initiated an inquiry into the case. ACP Milind Bhise has been appointed to conduct the inquiry,” said Khan.
TOI called Nehru Nagar police senior inspector Dhananjay Bagayatkar about the allegations and the live footage of cops collecting bribe. Bagayatkar asked this reporter to visit the police station to discuss the matter.
Deputy commissioner of police (Zone VI) Lakhmi Gautam said action was taken soon after orders from higher authorities. “Assistant commissioner of police Milind Bhise had prepared the inquiry report based on which the action was initiated. Paperwork is on and the 32 cops will be suspended with immediate effect and further probe will be carried out against them,” said Gautam.