The Mumbai police are in for a tough time cracking down on crime in the big bad city. Their khabris, crucial cogs in the police’s crime detection and intelligence gathering machinery, have stood up in revolt against them.
City’s ace informers have refused to aid cops in order to protest the recent arrests of two of their own, in allegedly false cases. Informers Sarfaraz Shaikh alias Guddu and Aarman Iqbal Khan were arrested by the Nagpada police a few days ago, after some locals complained that they were demanding extortion money in the name of the police.
Informers allege that the police refuse to support them in their time of need. “Already there are so many risks in this business. While passing on information to the cops we invite lots of enmity, which bounces back on us. The recent arrest of Guddu and Aarman Khan is a perfect example of this. They have been framed by one of their enemies, and in such a scenario, if the Mumbai police refuse to support us, there is no point in helping them,” said a khabri who is part of the same network.
Aarman and Guddu have helped police crack several cases. To name a few high-profile cases, they were crucial in busting a prostitution ring in January. After information provided by them, a police team led by additional commissioner (south) Krushna Prakash raided the Simplex building at Lamington Road, and rescued around 350 Bangladeshi girls.
The duo had also helped Unit II of the Crime Branch solve the murder of Beena Dedhia, who was killed by her husband who then tried to fob off the blame on chain snatchers in Kalachowkie.
Last month, the informers helped the V P Road police solve a murder and had helped the D B Marg police officials seize fake currency of Rs 3 lakh in Lamington Road.
Ironically, it was a recent raid on another flesh trade racket that landed the duo in soup with the very cops who relied on their information to carry out the operation. Aarman alleged that two weeks ago, he and his associate Guddu had tipped off the ‘I’ Branch of Mumbai police about some Bangladeshi girls allegedly forced into prostitution in a brothel at Nagpada. Following their lead, the Nagpada police raided the premises and rescued some of the girls while the owner of premises, a restaurateur, escaped.
“After a few days, the owner of the restaurant registered a false case of extortion against us. He wants to seek revenge after the police action,” said Aarman, who is currently out on bail of Rs 10,000.
Hard done by
To show solidarity with Aarman and Guddu, a group of around 50 khabris, spread around Nagpada, Bhendi Bazaar, J J Marg, Nallasapora, Mira Road, Mumbra and Pydhonie areas, have decided to stop work.
“After all the informers held a meting, we have decided not to work for the police till they resolve the matter,” said Aarman. The informers, who are not formally organised into a group, have raised the question of their protection and rights. They said that earlier they had some support and security, when they used to work under Irfan Chindi, a top informer of encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar -- the cop slain in the 26/11 attacks.
Irfan was killed in a shootout in 2009 in Nagpada, and the khabris have since been demanding special care from the police for the risk involved in their job.
“Vijay Salaskar used to help informers and give them whatever they needed. Also, there was Irfan bhai to help out but, ever since his death, we have been stranded,” said a khabri.
Another police informant said, “Most of the police department works on the basis of the information supplied by us. We sit with all senior police officers and most of them know us. We don’t extort people and the police only pay us for our help in the form of rewards. But this incident (the arrests) has shocked us.”
He added, “The Nagpada police officer took a bribe from the complainant and framed our two people. Now the complainant is also making banners of the two and sticking them at various places in Nagpada to tarnish their image.”
Cops react coolly
The police, however, seem unaffected by the loss of potential intelligence sources. “The informers are not a singular group, they don’t have an association. They are people who are attached with a police officer and if they trust a particular officer, no matter what the risk involved, they will pass on the information to him,” said DCP Nisar Tamboli (zone II), who has worked with the Crime Branch and dealt with khabris.
Meanwhile, unnamed sources from the Crime Branch vouched for the integrity of the arrested informers. They said they did not think it was likely that the arrested duo would stoop to extortion, since they were close to many senior police officers.