Cops seek ATC help to nab mystery road rowdies

What does the air traffic control (ATC) have to do with violation of road rules? The fact is, in trying to track down a group of yet unidentified high-profile lawbreakers, Mumbai police has reportedly approached the ATC at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). The inquiry was ordered by city police commissioner Arup Patnaik after an alert citizen apprised him of the matter.

In a letter (copy with MiD DAY), the Mumbai police unit Protection and Security has written to General Manager, ATC, CSIA, asking for details of persons who allegedly boarded either a private plane or a Pawan Hans Helicopter from Juhu Aerodrome on February 29 after violating traffic rules and abusing commuters on SV Road.

Seeking answers
“This office has been directed by the commissioner of police, Mumbai to inquire into a complaint application. The allegations made in the complaint are that a group of motorcyclists and owners of BMW SUV and Toyota Lexus cars have violated traffic rules, created nuisance and abused road users on February 29, 2012 at around 09.30 am at SV Road, between Khar and Vile Parle (W). The same group had entered Juhu Aerodrome for boarding plane/chopper of Pawan Hans Helicopter Limited for their destination,” reads the letter sent by Madhukar Pandey, additional commissioner, Protection and Security, Mumbai police.

“Therefore you are requested to furnish the details like name, address, contact numbers, references etc of those who have availed services of Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd or have used a private aircraft on February 29, 2012 to this office at the earliest and cooperate,” the letter goes on to say.

To the letter
Speaking to MiD DAY, Arup Patnaik said, “I was in receipt of a letter, marked in my name by an alert citizen, who witnessed the said incident while driving on SV Road that morning and the matter is being probed currently by the Protection and Security unit.”

Senior police officers revealed that in his letter to the commissioner, the complainant had stated that on the day of the incident he was driving on SV Road between Khar and Vile Parle at 9.30 am, when he witnessed a religious procession, wherein people on two-wheelers were following a fleet of beacon-fitted luxury cars, including BMW and Toyota Lexus.

The complainant added that the followers were disrupting traffic and were not allowing other motorists to pass, thereby causing slow movement of vehicles.

The citizen also raised concerns over the misuse of beacon lights. The fleet then entered Juhu Aerodrome and headed towards the Pawan Hans compound, the complainant said.

“The Mumbai police has a zero-tolerance policy over the use of unauthorised beacon lights, and causing inconvenience to common people. Also, Mumbai police has the alert citizens policy through which people can make phone calls, email and even send SMSes to the police, intimating us about any wrongdoings. This particular case was brought to the notice of the commissioner by an alert citizen and the inquiry is going on,” said Pandey.

Drawing a blank!
Officials at Pawan Hans denied any private chopper booking was done in that period. “We have sent our reply to Mumbai police on the concerned letter. No one came to our boarding point and there was no prior booking either. If they entered from the other gate, only the aerodrome authority can elaborate on it,” said a Pawan Hans representative.

On the other hand, Juhu Aerodrome authorities claim it is a matter pertaining to Pawan Hans and the letter is marked to them.

“As the query was specific to Pawan Hans, we marked the letter to them. They will reply to the police,” said M Yadagiri, director, Juhu Aerodrome. 

Got a grievance? Contact the top cop
Arup Patnaik explained that hundreds of letters are received by his office every day. Most envelopes are marked to ‘The Police Commissioner’ and are opened by the junior staff and then forwarded to the concerned department for necessary action. However, as a matter of policy, all letters that are marked to ‘Arup Patnaik’ are opened only by the police commissioner and nobody else. Since the alert citizen had marked the copy in the name of the commissioner, Patnaik opened the same and action was initiated immediately.

Patnaik added, “I have my own methods of collecting information — receiving messages from the police control room, direct letters written to me, newspapers, from the post box that I have put inside the police head quarters and also by SMSes on the nos 7738133133 and 7738144144.

The commissioner has appealed to people to write to him directly or send SMSes and has assured action within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. “I want the people of Mumbai to become alert citizens and write to me or SMS me directly on any issues — from as small as loudspeaker problems or gambling problems to any serious crime. The complaints will be verified and action will be initiated accordingly,” Patnaik told MiD DAY.

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