The Nagpada police have arrested two police informers for trying to extort the owner of a Kamathipura-based restaurant.
Following their arrest, several sex workers from the area rushed to the police station to add to the complaints against the accused, saying that they too had been at the receiving end of their extortion.
The arrests were made on the basis of a complaint lodged by hotel owner Chetan Pandurang Gauda at the Nagpada police station. The accused have been identified as Arman Iqbal Khan (33) and Sarfaraz Kamrul Haq Sheikh alias Guddu (32).
“We arrested Arman and Guddu under sections 385 (extortion), 504 (Insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several persons) of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The accused claimed they are close to the police,” said Sudhakar Kamble, assistant inspector of police (API) at Nagpada police station.
Around 7 pm on Friday, Arman and Guddu met Gauda. Introducing themselves as journalist and police informer respectively, they demanded Rs 2,000 from him every month. They threatened that if Gauda failed to cough up the money, he would face problems, as his restaurant was illegal.
“They had earlier demanded a box of Kingfisher strong beer from me, which I had refused. Fed up with their demands and threats, I registered an FIR against them in Nagpada police station,” said Gauda.
Getting wind that the duo had been arrested, more than 300 sex workers from the area rushed to Nagpada police station to add to the complaints. They alleged that the duo had thrashed and robbed them many times in the past, after coming to the area in police vans.
They alleged that the accused would come in police vans to their area and extort them, showing photographs of the Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash and Senior Inspector Nandkumar Gopale on their mobile phones, to establish their links to the police.
“I don’t know Arman or Guddu. I never heard their names,” said Gopale. Krishna Prakash was not available for comment.
Speaking to MiD DAY, more than 15 sex workers confirmed that the duo would come to Kamathipura in a police van belonging to the ‘I’ branch. They would often claim to be crime reporters. They had uploaded the symbol of the Maharashtra Police and the photographs onto their mobile phones, which they would use to inspire fear.
“If we refused, they would thrash us and forcibly snatch our earring and ornaments. On several occasions, they thrashed and looted us. We approached Nagpada police station but the cops there refused to register our complaint,” they said, speaking in a chorus. The women identified themselves as Nisha, Saira, Meena, Parvati and Sunita.
Kamble admitted, “Some sex workers had come to the police station complaining against the accused. We said they should have come to us when the offence was committed against them,” said Kamble.