Mumbai hooch tragedy: Did Malwani cops help culprits escape?

Further controversy strikes the Malwani police, with sources revealing that Crime Branch investigations suggest that rogue cops may have helped the hooch racketeers escape by passing on information to them

Already under fire for not taking timely action against the hooch racket running in Malwani, responsible for over 60 deaths due to alcohol toxicity, the local police now face further embarrassment with preliminary investigations suggesting that rogue cops may have informed the culprits about the investigation and allowed them to slip away.

Families mourn the deceased at Bhagwati Hospital.
Families mourn the deceased at Bhagwati Hospital

The victims’ families had raised a furore about the local police not taking action against the culprits despite several complaints in the past, and eight cops from Malwani police station have been suspended for their negligence so far.

The Crime Branch is currently investigating the racket, and is also probing how information was leaked to the perpetrators, helping them to give the authorities the slip. Reportedly, on Thursday afternoon, when the police learnt about the first two deaths, they failed to take it seriously.

It was not until the evening, when a wireless message informed them about five more deaths, that they started their investigation. Sources claimed a few cops who were familiar with the local illicit alcohol and drug network, leaked the information to the culprits and asked them to go underground.

The prime accused, hooch and drug dealer Raju Paskar alias Raju Langda, is currently in the custody of the Crime Branch. According to a Crime Branch source, he told the officials that he would pay hafta to a constable Bhosle, from Malwani police station, so he could sell moonshine in the locality without any trouble from the police.

He said Bhosle was well aware of his illicit business. Bhosle does not seem to be on the list of suspended cops, said the source, adding that his name would now be forwarded to the superiors. The Crime Branch produced three accused in court yesterday, including the prime accused Raju, as well as two new arrests – Donald Patel and Gautam Harte.

Mumbai hooch tragedy: Malwani SPI knew about racket, allege cops

The trio was remanded to the Crime Branch’s custody till June 26. In addition, two more were arrested on Friday evening – Francis Thomas Demello and Salim Mehboob Shaikh.

Modus operandi
The bootlegging racket is spread over several locations, and used a novel method to smuggle the alcohol, sources said. The dealers would source the liquor from Vasai, Malad (East), Borivli (East) and from near the Film City, later distributing it in bulk in their respective areas.

Also read: Hooch horror in Malwani; toll rises to 41

The dealers had hired 8-10 women to smuggle the booze on local trains, tying it around their waists and covering it with sarees or nightgowns to make it seem like they were pregnant. After they got hold of the consignments, the major dealers would then give it to local suppliers spread across 150 different spots, mostly operating out their own homes.

Cop speak
When mid-day contacted Additional Commissioner (North) Fateh Singh Patil, he denied having any information about cops giving a tip-off to the criminals, and said he was unaware of the findings of the Crime Branch investigation.

Major dealers
According to Crime Branch sources, the following were some of the main dealers for spurious liquor in their areas:
>> Himachal in Ambujwadi
>> Francis Dimello and Sarika in Kharodi village
>> Lata Akka at the New Collector compound, gate 6
>> Pappubhai Daruwala at plot 70m gate 7
>> Jay Anna at Saibaba temple near gate 7

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