Three policemen are in the dock for two separate extortion cases in which they threatened to launch investigations against a five-star hotel and a cigarette seller unless they were paid off
When it comes to corrupt cops looking to make a quick buck, it seems no one is off limits, be it the management of a well-known five-star hotel or a humble cigarette stall owner.
Following a recent spate of police extortion incidents, three policemen from the Juhu and Vile Parle police stations are in the dock in two separate cases, after they threatened to launch fake investigations against a posh hotel and a cigarette vendor unless they were paid off.
In the first case, sub-inspectors Chandrakant Methe (Juhu police station) and Vilas Hazare (Vile Parle police station) were posted at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s Bandra bungalow, Matoshree, where they were on bandobast and VIP protection duty.
At the end of the duty hours, the duo went straight to a posh hotel in Juhu, where they first enjoyed a meal and then told the management they were on an inspection. They claimed to have observed several irregularities in the hotel’s operations, and threatened to investigate unless they were given R10 lakh to withdraw the case.
While Hazare was in civilian attire, Methe was in uniform at the time. The hotel management paid the duo Rs 2.2 lakh and said they would arrange the remaining amount soon. However, the cops were not aware that they were filmed by the CCTV cameras the entire time.
Armed with the footage, the hotel officials complained to the Juhu police station. Once the truth was revealed, the duo returned the money to the hotel officials and apologised. While no official complaint was lodged in the matter, the hotel management asked the police not to harass them in the future as they were working within regulations.
Despite repeated attempts, the hotel staff refused to comment on the matter, but Vile Parle police station’s Senior Inspector Raksha Maharao offered a bizarre explanation. “My officer was off duty at the time of the incident,” she said, adding that she had no knowledge about the incident.
The victim in the second incident was a cigarette vendor, who allegedly also sold gutkha on the side, at his stall at Gilbert Hill, Andheri (West). Constable Anusaya from the Juhu police station had been tipped off that the vendor was illegally selling gutkha at his stall.
So he visited the shop in civilian garb and told the vendor that he was a senior officer from the Social Service police branch in Bandra. Little did he know that this would raise the vendor’s suspicion, as there is no Social Service branch in Bandra. The vendor paid Anusaya Rs 50,000 in exchange for his silence about the gutkha, but also took a photograph of the constable and gave it to the police.
“Firstly, it was not his (Anusaya’s) area. Gilbert Hill falls under the DN Nagar police station’s jurisdiction. And how could he extort money in the name of the Social Service branch? What are these cops up to?” said a policeman from the Juhu police station.
When contacted, Additional Commissioner of Police (West region) Milind Bharambe said, “We have initiated an inquiry in both the matters. I have received reports too. Tough action will be taken.”