The Nehru Nagar police station wore an uncharacteristically deserted look yesterday, a day after 37 of its tainted police officials were suspended for accepting bribes from an activist. While the case of mass corruption in a single police station has left the city's police force red-faced, matters just got murkier with the release of a personal diary maintained by the whistle-blower Mohammad Kasim Khan (47).
The diary, which is exclusively available with MiD DAY, implicates at least 10 more officers of Nehru Nagar police station in collecting money from a renovation site at a refugee camp in Kurla (East). "There are more officers, and all of them should be taken to task. I have recorded their names and the money paid to them, along with their mobile numbers. In some cases I had even mentioned their duties and the timings at which these officers paid visits to the site to collect bribes. The investigators should corroborate the facts and conduct a thorough inquiry in the case," Khan claimed.
Eleven pages of the diary indicate that the bribes were paid to the officers in the duration between March 9 and the end of the month. On certain pages in the diary, Khan had also mentioned the numbers of the vehicles on which the accused came to the site to collect haftas. It's not just the police constables who feature in the diary - the senior police inspector also crops up in the log that was scrupulously maintained by Khan and his son.
Asked to respond to the bribery allegations levelled against him, Senior PI Dhananjay Bagayatkar, who gets special mention in the diary, brushed off the claims, saying, "No doubt the bribe incident has tarnished the image of the police. But just because someone is falsely dragging a senior officer's name into the matter, it does not mean that the cop is corrupt. Since I am the in-charge of the police station, the blame will ultimately fall on me. But my conscience is very clear. I will defend myself against the false bribery allegations."
The station usually has 16 PSIs, six APIs, four PIs and around 60-70 constables reported to it. In the light of the suspensions, 37 of them were missing in action yesterday. According to sources, strict action will be taken against the suspended police officials, if a thorough enquiry pins the blame on them. If any senior officer is implicated in the case, they too will not be spared.
MiD DAY had carried a story yesterday with accompanying photographs of the sting operation undertaken by Khan using a spy cam, in which many police officers can be clearly seen accepting bribes and stuffing the notes into their pockets. The bribes were taken in exchange for stopping the demolition of a structure in a refugee camp at Thakkar Bappa Colony in Kurla (East). The structure was the residence of Khan's acquaintance Prakash Nawal, who was renovating it without having taken requisite permission.
The M-Ward officials issued a stop-work notice to him, but he continued the renovation work. After the third notice came in, Nawal stopped the renovation work, but authorities went ahead and demolished the structure. Thakkar Bappa Colony was a refugee camp built for people migrating from Pakistan in the wake of the partition of India.