Seven cops penalised for aiding sandalwood smugglers, dacoits
Rural police superintendent Manoj Kumar Lohiya has suspended five policemen and transferred one police inspector attached to the Local Crime Branch (LCB) of the rural police for shielding and providing escort to sandalwood smugglers and helping dacoits to steal steel from godowns on Pune Ahmednagar Road.
Apart from that, another police inspector, who was attached to the economic offences wing, was also transferred after it was proved that he had a role in a land-grabbing case in Chakan area.
Those suspended are sub-inspector Sangram Patil and constable Khade — attached to Shikrapur police station — and constables Vikram Pasalkar, Suresh Hinge and Shrikant Mali of LCB. Patil and Khade were suspended on charges of aiding suspects in stealing steel materials from premises of Ispat Company at Shikrapur in 2012. Pasalkar, Hinge and Mali were suspended for allowing escape of suspects who were nabbed for smuggling red sandalwood. The incident came to light after Chakan police raided vehicles loaded with smuggled sandalwood and during the interrogation of those caught, the role of LCB cropped up.
Why the transfers
The police inspectors who were transferred are PI Nitin Gokave, attached to the LCB, and PI Balraj Lanjile of the economic offence wing. Under Lohiya’s directives, Pune rural police conducted an inquiry for a month which led to the suspension and transfer of the policemen for their role in two incidents — escorting red sandalwood traffickers, and dacoits who stole steel materials from steel godowns on Pune-Ahmednagar Highway, a few months ago.
Lohiya had asked Special Inspector General (IGP) of police of Kolhapur range to take strict action against inspectors. “There is suspicion that Gokave, who was chief of LCB, might have guided the entire operation to help smugglers in sneaking out of Pune rural area without any hassle,” said Lohiya.
Gokave has been transferred to traffic branch and a departmental enquiry has been initiated against him. Internal investigations have revealed that the police team escorted dacoits and after looting a godown, the team used to help them get to Pune borders.
With reference to sandalwood smuggling, it was found that a group of police personnel escorted the smugglers of costly sandalwood on highways that pass through Pune district. Sandalwood was transported to Navi Mumbai ports from Bengaluru via Pune. The police provided security to trucks that entered Pune limits and no one intercepted them.
Speaking about another land grabbing case, Lohiya said that there were accusations that Lanjile had allegedly grabbed some land in Chakan area. He too has been transferred to traffic section.
Those suspended are sub-inspector Sangram Patil and constable Khade — attached to Shikrapur police station — and constables Vikram Pasalkar, Suresh Hinge and Shrikant Mali of the LCB.
The two police inspectors who have been transferred are PI Nitin Gokave — attached to the Local Crime Branch —, and PI Balraj Lanjile from the economic offences wing.