Some bribe-taking cops innocent: Police chief

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 12 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A day after 36 personnel of Nehru Nagar police were suspended for allegedly accepting bribes, the force sent mixed signals on the follow-up to the unprecedented action. While it also suspended the senior inspector of Nehru Nagar police station for "slackness in handling his subordinates", the commissioner declared even before the start of the probe that "some of the 36 found taking money were innocent".

Addressing the media on Thursday, police chief Satyapal Singh called the case "shameful for the entire force". He assured that action would be taken against those found guilty, but also maintained that some were innocent. His vote of exoneration coincided with the institution on Thursday of an inquiry under DCP Lakhmi Gautam. The anti-corruption bureau too has filed a complaint against the 36 cops.

All members of the constabulary, the 36 were caught on spy camera by a Kurla resident, allegedly accepting bribes. According to the complainant, Mohammed Khan, each cop took Rs 100 to Rs 500. Over 10 days they accepted a total of Rs 45,000 from Khan, who was helping a friend in Kurla (West) Refugee Camp turn his barrack (with a mezzanine floor) into a single-storey house. Khan alleged that the cops threatened to frame him for building illegal extensions if not paid up.

Joint commissioner of police (law and order) Sadanand Date said the 36 constables were suspended with immediate effect. "Senior inspector Dhananjay Bagayatkar was suspended after initial findings showed that his slackness led to the incident," added Date.

The mass suspension created a deserted look at Nehru Nagar police station, with staff strength considerably weakened.

On Thursday, Khan reposed no faith in the ACB and police investigations. Instead, he demanded that a committee—comprising of retired high court judges, cops and bureaucrats—be formed to probe the case. "I am working for the society, not for self-interest," said 50-year-old Khan.

Khan alleged that he had taken the spy camera footage to the ACB in the past, but the bureau did not accept it. On Thursday, ACB director general Raj Khilnani said, "I have ordered a probe into Khan's allegation that he was not entertained by ACB officers when he approached us with the footage. I have asked an additional commissioner-level officer to probe. If anyone is found guilty, stern action will be taken against him."

Displaying a firmer stand on corruption, home minister R R Patil said punishment will be meted out to officers found ignoring citizens' efforts to unearth graft. "The minister (Patil) has taken a stern view of the incident and suspended cops. He wants to send a signal to all police stations in the state that such incidents will not be tolerated," said a senior home department official.

The promises to act extended to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. With allegations floating that at least 30 civic employees may be involved in allowing illegal constructions in Kurla, senior civic officials said they will crack down if provided valid proof against the engineers.

Meanwhile, Nehru Nagar police officers accused Khan of exacting revenge on them for taking him to the police station on Monday for "misconduct". "Khan hurled abuses at the police after the BMC demolished his friend's house, which he was contracted to build. An assistant sub-inspector asked Khan to be polite. When Khan did not comply, he was brought to the police station. To take revenge, Khan asked his son to approach the zonal DCP with the sting operation, which he had conducted from March 9 to March 25," said an officer. Khan refuted the allegation.

(With inputs from S Ahmed Ali & Bhavika Jain)

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