Alleges that police took a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from kingpin of the racket and revealed his identity as well; cops say just a misunderstanding
Manoj Thakur is now wary of the men in khaki. The 28-year-old resident of Ulhasnagar has claimed that he helped the police on Sunday nab three gold smugglers moving a consignment from Bangkok to Thane. But instead of rewarding him, they allegedly took a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from the kingpin and tried to frame him in the case.
Manoj Thakur, the police informer and Rahesh Ahuja
Thakur, a police informer who owns a construction firm, told mid-day that he had received a tip-off that a seasoned smuggler, Rahesh Ahuja (30) of Ulhasnagar was to arrive in Mumbai from Bangkok with gold biscuits on Sunday. He immediately passed on the information to Aslam Khatib, assistant inspector of the Mahatma Phule police station.
The gold biscuits recovered
Determined to end Ahuja’s free run, Thakur went to the Chhatrapati International Airport early on Sunday. Ahuja arrived on an Air India flight, AI349, via Delhi at 6.30am with two other mules — Nitin Sutar (43) and Heena Popatani (30) — both residents of Ulhasnagar.
Sutar and Popatani had boarded the flight during the connecting stop at Delhi. During the flight, Ahuja allegedly passed on the six gold biscuits he had hidden in his rectum to the two couriers. Using the same technique, Popatani hid four gold bars in her rectum in the aircraft toilet, while Sutar took another two.
After the plane landed, Sutar and Popatani walked right out of the airport without any trouble — since domestic passengers are not screened by Customs officials — and Ahuja joined them outside after clearing the immigration process.
On the trail
The three then hailed an autorickshaw and headed for Saki Naka. There, Sutar and Popatani went into a public restroom and took the gold bars out of their rectum. Thereafter, the three headed for Kalyan. Thakur was close on their heels on his bike and kept Khatib in the loop throughout the chase.
The three gold smugglers were caught by two Mahatma Phule police constables near the Baicha Putla Chowk in Kalyan at 8.30 am.
But at the station, the police allegedly failed to register a case. Fearing that the smugglers would find out his identity, Thakur left around 5.30 pm and a friend kept tabs on the goings-on. Thakur then found out that Khatib, on orders from senior police inspector Anil Pawar, demanded a bribe of Rs 25 from the kingpin of the smuggling racket and revealed Thakur’s identity. Thakur alleged that soon after, a man drove up to the station in a Mercedes car and handed over Rs 20 in cash.
In an alleged volte face, the police then framed Thakur in the case. The police informer rallied forces — he sought the help of some activists and approached DCP, Kalyan, Sanjay Jadhav. He claimed that it was only after Jadhav intervened did the police file a case against the three smugglers.
Pawar refuted the allegations. “How can we frame our informer? There has been some misunderstanding.” He said six gold biscuits weighing 1,195 gm and worth Rs 33,81,850 were recovered from the three smugglers. They were released on bail after being produced in court.
Thakur, however, was not in a forgiving mood. “Informers are no longer assured of protection,” he rued.
Six months ago, Thakur had helped Mumbai and Bangalore police recover 6 kg of gold and bust a smuggling racket. Three months ago, he helped the Kurla GRP bust a Rs 1-crore currency note racket.