mid-day editorial: No time for one-upmanship

The botched Crime Branch raid targeting African drug peddlers in Dongri has again put the spotlight on the testy relationship between the elite crime-fighting team and the local police.

Soon after word got out that the operation had failed, personnel from the local police station — Dongri in this case — were quick to point out that things may have turned out differently had the Crime Branch kept them in the loop. The Crime Branch, on the other hand, insists that the decision to keep the Dongri police out was deliberate, casting aspersions on the integrity of the station officers.

While an enquiry will throw more light on who is right, the larger, more disturbing angle is the trust deficit between the two sides of the city police force.

The botched raid is not even the first such instance in recent months. In the double murder of artist Hema Upadhyay and her advocate Harish Bhambani, too, the Crime Branch swooped on the supposed prime suspect Chintan Upadhyay with hardly any concrete evidence against him. When he was let off after a week's interrogation, the local police pounced on Chintan just to prove a point, again with disregard to whether they had any evidence against him.

There was also the case of the ATM heist inside the VN Desai Hospital in Santacruz, where deputy commissioners from the Crime Branch and the local zone had a public face-off.

Even though the Dongri raid is a clear failure, the Crime Branch officials seem to be content with the mere fact that it showed the local police in poor light, ignoring the fact that even they were left shame-faced.

It will only be better for the city police’s image if the two sections put their game of one-upmanship aside and work towards the same goal — fighting crime. As retired officials maintain, competition is always a good thing, but there is a difference between competition and ugly mudslinging. Clearly, what we are seeing is the latter. It is high time the top brass stepped in and put an end to this nonsense.

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