Investigating officials told mid-day that at a time when the entire department was looking for clues on the drug queen, Senior Inspector Suhas Gokhale gave his DCP Patankar’s new number, triggering a chain of events that led to him and four others being arrested on May 29; Gokhale was to retire on May 30
But for a display of overconfidence by a senior police inspector from the anti-narcotics cell, who was on the verge of retirement, he and four of his police colleagues would still be free rather than cooling their heels in prison for their alleged links with drug kingpin Baby Patankar, officials investigating the case told mid-day.
Baby Patankar and Suhas Gokhale
Immediately after Marine Drive Head Constable Dharmaraj Kalokhe’s arrest on March 9 from Satara with a huge quantity of mephedrone aka meow meow, the name of his girlfriend Shashikala alias Baby Patankar had surfaced. The drug queen’s known phone number was switched off, however, and the Mumbai Police had no clue about her whereabouts.
Around March 14, however, Senior Police Inspector Suhas Gokhale from the anti-narcotics cell, who was supposed to retire on May 31 and had been in touch with Baby Patankar, approached the deputy commissioner of police he reported to and gave him a phone number, which he claimed was the drug queen’s new number. This one act would lead to his undoing and that of four other cops who were arrested with him on May 29.
Officials told mid-day that they are still baffled why Gokhale offered the information to the DCP, as it pointed the needle of suspicion firmly on him and made investigators probe whether he was in touch with Patankar. They said that until he gave this information, nobody had suspected Gokhale’s involvement.
“This over-smartness displayed by Gokhale led us to suspect that he was in touch with Patankar. He gave the information at a time when the entire department was looking for clues about her, and the fact that he had access to the number made his superiors believe that he was part of Patankar’s network,” said an officer who was part of the investigations.
While the number belonging to Patankar that Gokhale had given was switched off, investigators decided to check the call detail records (CDR) of Gokhale himself and found that many calls had been exchanged between him and the phone number in question.
Crime Branch officials then accessed the CDR of Patankar’s number and found that more than 15 policemen were in touch with her while she was on the run. All of these officials were summoned to the police commissionerate for recording their statements. They were kept in different rooms and were questioned one after the other.
“The initial orders were to arrest all the suspects. But, after investigations, the cops realised that they did not have strong evidence against all of them and hence, only five were arrested. Thus, on May 29, Gokhale, who was supposed to retire the next day, was arrested along with Inspector Gautam Gaikwad, Assistant Inspector Jyotiram Mane, PSI Sudhakar Sarang and Head Constable Yeshwant Parte.
More to come?
“We have still not given a clean chit to the other police officers. Four of them are from Unit IV of Crime Branch while the rest are from the anti-narcotics cell. If we get enough evidence against these black sheep, they will also be nailed,” said a Crime Branch officer said.