Rogue Mumbai cops in the dock for harassing couples after mid-day sting

Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar orders high-level probe against errant policemen, couples harassed in the past come forward to narrate ordeal; citizens active on social media and legal experts react

A day after mid-day’s sting operation to expose corrupt policemen who were harassing and extorting bribes from young couples, Mumbai police have initiated a high-level probe to investigate the policemen caught on tape. The investigation triggered tremendous outrage among the public, with people saying the police should devote more time to setting its house in order than on punning on social media.

Also read: Cops in Mumbai continue to harass couples on the streets for no reason

These 4 policemen were caught on camera harassing mid-day reporters as they were chatting in cars in isolated spots
These 4 policemen were caught on camera harassing mid-day reporters as they were chatting in cars in isolated spots

Several youngsters, who have been at the receiving end of police harassment while they were merely chatting with their female friends, came forward to share their ordeal.

On Monday, mid-day had published an investigation where reporters Sagar Rajput, Sailee Dhayalkar and Anju Maskeri — who were posing as couples and were chatting in their cars parked in isolated spots — caught patrolling constables from five police stations on camera taking bribes.

On Monday, the police said they have initiated a high-level probe and recorded the statements of the errant constables. Three officers of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police rank have been assigned to investigate the matter and submit their report at the earliest. New police commissioner Datta Padsalgikar told this paper that the harshest punishment will be meted out. based on the probe report.

The police added efforts are on to identify the unidentified constable who claimed to be from the BKC police station. The BKC police visited the mid-day office to collect the video clips of the sting operation.

”Anything which is a corrupt practice will not be tolerated,” said Padsalgikar. “I have informed Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti to personally look into the matter. A thorough probe has been ordered into the matter and we will ensure that harshest punishment is given.”

Bharti told mid-day: “A probe has been ordered under the supervision of the Deputy Commissioner of Police of respective zones. Statements of the constable have been recorded. A detailed inquiry shall be done. We are interrogating the said constables.”

Mumbaikars recount their moral policing horror stories

In 2012, Kuber Sarup, a media professional was arrested and charged under Bombay Police Act for giving a goodbye hug and a peck on his female friend’s cheeks, however he was relieved of all the charges after he fought the case in court.

Kuber Sarup

Sarup said, “I had just dropped my female friend at Carter Road and had even stopped a rickshaw for her. Later, while leaving I gave her a hug and a small peck on her cheeks. Just then, a constable arrived from behind and started giving me lectures on Hindu culture. He claimed that this wasn’t allowed in the city and ordered me to come to the police station with him.”

Sarup didn’t mind going to the Khar police station, as he was confident that he wasn’t wrong. Upon reaching the police station, he was charged Rs 1,200 under obscenity. Sarup added, “Then, I hired an advocate and won the case against the Mumbai police. But, I wanted to amend the law against this. However, I learnt that the cops consider it (the amendment) only after the High Court releases any order. I didn’t pursue it because I don’t have that much time and it isn’t affordable as well, as I have my family to take care of; but I want to fight against it.”

Let off after friend raised her voice

Raj Ghosh

Mulund resident Raj Ghosh recalls, “I was sitting with a male and female friend in the car near Nirmal Lifestyle, when a constable arrived and ordered my female friend to get down of the car. She was shaken by the way the constable asked her to get down. She raised her voice, following which the constable apologised and the officer who was with him at the junction gave her his personal number and asked her to contact him if she needed anything.”

Asked for liquor and Rs 200

Aniket Thakkar

Another Mulund resident, Aniket Thakkar, had a rather odd experience. He says, “Three of my friends — one boy and two girls — were returning from Aqua Imagica and we had stopped near Nahur station as two of us wanted to relieve ourselves. Two constables came on their patrolling bike and started asking us questions. They threatened to take us to take to the police station and charge a fine. But since we had two girls with us, we denied and in return they demanded money and a quarter bottle of liquor. We ended up giving R200 and left from the spot.”

Legal eagles say

Advocate Aabad Ponda
Obviously what the cops are doing is wrong. They are intruding in the privacy of the people without there being any crime committed. Unless there is illegal behaviour or indecency, action is not warranted. Cops will start terming everything as indecent.

Advocate Amit Desai
This approach clearly seems to be harassment and high-handedness. If there were a matter of security or law and order for them, they would have asked you to move away from that area rather than staying there. However, if without any material and basis if they are making this allegation, then it is unjustified.

Advocate Vijay Hiremath
There is no law that says that a couple cannot sit together. This is purely moral policing. The police have better things to do to than harass young couples.

Reactions on Facebook

Majority of the police will trouble innocent people and will leave the culprit…and they will not leave a single chance to empty your pocket. — Mohsin Khan

The police is for our safety. But in the name of safety, they are taking advantage of us. They want something or the other to fill their stomach, and if we don’t agree to something they have said, then they dupe us into any case and defame us…this is the truth of our Indian Police! — Gaurav Kular

If they are sitting in a secluded spot, it’s for their own good police forcing them to leave... They can’t be there everywhere to save the couples.... Only thing is they are demanding bribe and that’s wrong.... At nighttime, the couples can be harassed by goons.... It’s not yet safe to stay out alone in a secluded spot in India.... — Vinod Prakash

@ Vinod Asking people to leave secluded spots in not good policing. Securing secluded spots is good policing. — Saurabh Gupta

(in reply to Vinod Prakash)

Letters

CP must sackerring officers
This refers to mid-day’s exposé on the moral policing done by cops. mid-day needs to be complimented for highlighting this problem. The new Police Commissioner is faced with an onerous task of reigning in policemen who keep flouting their own rules for making a quick buck. Only strict departmental action can help reduce this menace and culprits should be sacked from services. - Ashok Goswami

Couples fear cops morethan antisocial elements
mid-day’s exposé on immoral fleecing by the cops is a blot on the constabulary. Ironically, young couples are more afraid of policemen than of antisocial elements. The new commissioner of police must take stern measures against erring cops so as to restore confidence among citizens. - Robert Castellino

New CP will have to crack the whip
KUDOS to mid-day for exposing the corrupt cops who extort bribes from couples under the pretext of moral policing despite explicit instructions. The common man has no confidence in the cops, as most of them appear to be criminals instead of protectors of the law, as has been exposed by your reporters. The new police commissioner will have to crack the whip and severely punish the corrupt cops to send a stern warning across the rank and file as there seems to be no fear of law with the cops and criminals while the common man is at the receiving end.
- Vanita Shenoy

Tweet talk

@lindsaypereira: When they aren’t coming up with awful puns for Twitter, the Bombay Police harass couples for no reason.

@essachin: @MumbaiPolice Charge entire fine / don’t charge at all / at least provide a receipt for bribes - we too pay taxes.

@parodevi: This is a harrowing and sad read - #MumbaiPolice vs couples and everyday #MoralPolicing

@karishmau: @CPMumbaiPolice whenever you are done with all the puns, you might want to look into this.

@designandpeople: @mid_day Congratulations for exposing the criminals of @CPMumbaiPolice. Time for police reforms. Reduce numbers and have smart cops only.

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