Amid the ongoing extortion allegations levelled against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh by the former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, many current and former police officers came vocal about their views on the current hullabaloo.
Sable, a former police constable told Afternoon Voice, “There are brokers in the department on every level. This is happening for ages and this is common practice in the entire Indian police service. From arranging leaves, duty timings, place of duty, posting we have brokers. Everything is possible with money or influence. You say cops are corrupt, yes they do corruption because they have to survive by paying their seniors, and it is a syndicate.”
Patil from the Satara police department said, “Sometimes police personnel’s stoop so low that they take hafta from eunuchs and sex workers those who manage their bread by selling their body. Needs knows no morality. Senior-level officers have glorified life, headlines, media, and much more. A constable remains a slave to the system and people.”
IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, the then Commissioner Intelligence Department had brought to the notice of the then Director-General of Police, who in turn had brought it to the knowledge of the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, about the mismanagements in postings/transfers by HM Anil Deshmukh based on a telephonic interception. She was shunted out rather than taking any firm action against Deshmukh.
Shukla had submitted her report on the involvement of an alleged network of ‘brokers’, particularly individuals with extensive political connections in arranging desired postings for police officers in exchange for massive monetary compensation.
Shukla had said in her report, “In order to authenticate these charges, the phone numbers of the individual allegedly involved in this dubious activity were placed under telephonic surveillance with due regard to the established process. The reasons for surveillance were to curtail the commitment of criminal offences and prevent a possible breach of trust.”
Retired Indian Police Service officer Dhanushkodi Sivanandhan served for six years in the Mumbai police Crime Branch in the 1990s. He is attributed to bringing the city back to normalcy when it was undergoing an underworld shoot-out phase.
Sivanandhan asserted, “One man’s illegal activity does not affect the Mumbai police at all. Sachin Vaze is not the Mumbai police (He is an individual who was working with the department). Vaze has committed a crime and a case has been registered by the National Investigation Agency, ATS is also working on it, let the case get investigated and resolved as soon as possible. One man went berserk or rogue, but that does not mean the Mumbai police should be ashamed of themselves.”
He further stated that “The Mumbai police consist of 50,000 people, one of whom has allegedly committed a crime, and a proper process of registering a crime has been done. And what one (individually) does will not affect the law and order and crime situation of Mumbai city. During my tenure it was different and there was no political interference.”
Dr Meeran Chadha Borwankar, who retired from the Indian Police Service in 2017 as Director-General of Police, was known for her straightforward approach towards corruption and political interference in policing decisions throughout her 36-year career as an IPS officer.
Borwankar said, “I have worked for five years as DCP in Mumbai; I’ve worked as JCP. Sensitive cases are given to very mature and experienced officers. I don’t think whatever is happening now is the routine. In such sensitive cases were being handled by an officer who has just come back to service after a long gap. I want to emphasize that political interference has always been there. It’s nothing new. We knew how to deal and these officers got compromised to pressure. See politicians can force you to reinstate Vaze, but then the kind of job you should give him was Param Bir Singh’s decision.”
“In this particular case, the National Investigation Agency has not touched the politicians nor am I aware of any direct political intrusion. So, my conclusion that there is political interference is based on media reports and the action taken by the government. Param Bir’s letter alleges that Vaze was being used directly by the home minister. I think an inquiry by a high court judge is the need of the hour,” she added.
Borwankar further said, “I hope this whole issue has brought the corruption by politicians and police nexus to the forefront for citizens. And that they will not forget, but insist on its logical conclusion as it directly affects them, from police response to a complainant, registering of an FIR to a professional investigation of criminal cases lodged by them.”
Commenting on Param Bir Singh’s allegations former Mumbai Commissioner of Police, Julio Ribeiro said, “When the Mumbai CP learned about this (about the 100-crore scandal), he should have gone straight to the Minister and told him that this is not our job. Param Bir’s claims and his letter to the Chief Minister after his transfer are of no use.”
Julio Ribeiro further stated, “So far the government has not officially approached me to investigate the matter, even if they approach, I am not available. My age will not permit me to take that stress.”
“Even if I could, I would not have investigated this matter, because of the low-level politics being played here. If the inquiry is against the home minister of Maharashtra, then Pawar should conduct the inquiry because he heads the ruling party. Why a retired police officer should be asked to do it,” the former Mumbai CP added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party escalated its attack on the Maharashtra Government in the wake of fresh accusations against the state’s Home Minister with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis leading the charge. Demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the matter, Fadnavis claimed the Maharashtra government did not act on an “incriminating” state intelligence department report containing audio intercepts of a “large scale corruption” in police transfers and postings.
The BJP leader said that he had “6.3 GB data” of the calls intercepted by then Commissioner of Intelligence Rashmi Shukla with due permissions, where names of several key police officers were discussed. He added that all these phone calls were recorded by Shukla with due permission from the state government but despite the submission of the report to the Chief Minister in August 2020, no action was taken.
The Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik rubbished the claims made by Fadnavis and called Rashmi Shukla a “BJP agent”.
Fadnavis, who also raked up the case of IPS officer Rashmi Shukla, said he has given the information regarding the “Maharashtra Police transfer racket”, to the Union Home Secretary in a sealed envelope. He said he demanded a CBI inquiry and has been assured “appropriate” action into the matter.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said defending Deshmukh has made a serious dent in the political credibility of senior NCP leader Sharad Pawar. “The only way he can restore his political credibility is by making Deshmukh resign,” Prasad said addressing a press conference in Delhi. He called the Maha Aghadi government a “Maha Vasooli” government.
Speaking about his experience a DCP rank police officer informed Afternoon Voice, “I am also a victim of these practices, be it any government, BJP or Maha Vikas Aghadi, political interference is unavoidable. Around 40 to 50 officers getting postings rewards, awards, it’s a big game.”
Another DCP from Nagpur told under the condition of anonymity, “The biggest problem with the police department is that they don’t have unions like any other administrative bodies. That is why there is hardly any unity amongst the police to raise their voice on such topics. Secondly, the department has been abided by the oath they take to serve the nation without thinking about themselves. Department having no union, no welfare, NGO’s or anyone to take care of their voices. Police lacking the confidence to speak for themselves.”
He further continued stating, “Mainly police department doesn’t have the authority to speak against any government or civic body. However, nowadays some cops are rebelling against the government. But In the end either they are losing their jobs or getting a transfer from the department or sent on punishment posts.”
Sanjay Bhide, the Owner Trans Asian Chamber of Commerce said, “Of course, there is a Racket in Postings in Police Department for a long duration. The key positions to earn below the table are always auctioned. This was restricted previously only within the Police Department. Customs, Sea Ports, Airports, Excise Department were considered as Lucrative Positions. So, the appointments were done by Senior Police Officers by taking hefty bribes.”
“About 50 years ago, the Politicians got the wind of making money for themselves. Thus, they took over the Postings and Transfers of Police Officers in their hands. They started using Police Force in their Elections in their favour to harass their opponents. Huge Money started getting transacted at every level. The Police Department is now divided into political lines, instead of remaining neutral and impartial,” Bhide further added.
AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon told Afternoon Voice, “I believe that there must be a posting racket. It is common knowledge for everybody that not only the Maharashtra government but every other government takes huge sums of money from top bureaucrats to small, to police to any other authority for posting. And now these rackets are getting exposed then what a one want. But the question that I want to ask here – “Was IPS Rashmi Shukla tapping phones with legal permission or she was doing it illegally. Because tapping the phone is an invasion of privacy and the act which was done by her is unconstitutional.”
Anil Galgali, an RTI activist said, “The racket is active in the police force. MLAs and party leaders bring officers of their choice to the local police station. At the senior level, party functionaries lobby for arbitrary officers. It is not new but starts with the prevailing policy. Officers who do not lobby are harassed. Disciplinary action should be taken against the officers who are being transferred by putting pressure. Also, action should under police service act and its service rules so that no one will make such a mistake in future.”
Police Constable Ghare from Dhule told Afternoon Voice, “Police department and politicians’ relation is like a spouse, they cannot do without each other. Politicians need cops to shield their illegal activities and for their survival and the cops need politicians for their wellbeing, promotions, and cravings. Many politicians use police from low rank to DCP, ACP level officers as per their whims and fancies, so there is nothing new and eventually, in this whole power saga the one that gets compromised is a lower rank officer, like me.”
While giving an example over this he further stated, “You must have seen the events like Umang, Police Welfare shows and others, we are invited there to have a leisure time and entertainment, but all our high-rank officers and their families occupy the front row seats and officers like me are guarding their vehicles or are on bandobast. So, entertainment is also subjected to high-ranking officers.”
“If you see the lower strata of police, they are all bleeding and they are not happy because their officers are not doing justice to them, and that’s how the police department is running, bigger the post greater the hypocrisy”, added Ghare.