29-year-old alleges that cops picked him up for chatting with a friend, who they claimed was a thief; let him go only after allegedly coughing up Rs 10,000 as bribe

Bizarre as it may sound, but a mere handshake with a friend landed Bhandup resident Kamlesh Patel behind bars. The 29-year-old said that the policemen picked him up while he was chatting with a schoolmate Subhash Jadhav, who was wanted in a case of theft. He said that the cops accused him of being an accomplice of Jadhav. Patel alleges that he was released only after paying Rs 10,000 as bribe.

On Jan 25, Patel complained (copy available with MiD DAY) to commissioner of police Arup Patnaik, demanding action against police officials at Bhandup police station.

Soured reunion
According to the complaint, on January 24 Patel had gone to BMC's S-ward, Bhandup (West) for some work. As he stepped out of the office, he saw Subhash Jadhav, his former classmate, waving at him.

While the duo was shaking hands, two policemen appeared in an auto rickshaw and nabbed the two friends. Bewildered, Patel asked the cops why they had accosted him.

A cop allegedly slapped him and said that Jadhav was a laptop thief. "One of the cops hit me and said that Jadhav was a laptop thief and I was chatting with him. So I too was a thief," said Patel.

The cops took the duo to the police station and kept them in separate rooms. Later, a cop told Patel that Jadhav had confessed to having sold stolen goods like mobile phones to him. Simultaneously, another cop allegedly told Jadhav that Patel had confessed that he bought stolen goods from him.

"I tried to tell them that I am innocent and Jadhav also runs a courier company. After several hours when they realised that we were innocent, they asked me to cough up Rs 10,000 to secure my release," said Patel.

'Pay up'
Patel called up a friend Jeetu More, who was also reportedly on good terms with an officer in the police station. More rushed to the police station and told the cops he knew Patel very well and that he was innocent. But the cops allegedly did not budge and demanded the bribe, even threatening to frame Patel in a false case. Patel claims that his younger brother Devendra and More then arranged the sum of Rs 10,000 and paid up. Later in the evening Patel was released.

That night Patel met Jadhav again and the latter reportedly told him that the cops were asking him to arrange for an old laptop, as they had to 'crack' a theft case. Jadhav had refused to comply and didn't pay them any money either. Finally, he was allowed to go.

"This is straightforward loot by Bhandup police. They are not serving the people. They are running an extortion racket from a government office (police station)," said Patel.

The other side
"I am not aware of any such incident. Please send Patel to me. I'll give him justice," said Shrirang Nadgauda, senior inspector, Bhandup police station.