There was a time when the so called private detectives, the peeping toms were very much busy in spouse snooping tasks. Then the business extended to snooping young children of rich parents. Their tasks were limited and many of these peeping toms were informers to police in certain cases, but other than mainly snooping or chasing a person, these people hardly had any role in intelligence or crime cracking.
Once upon a time, around 35 years ago, a woman detective called Rajani Pandit, grabbed news space as people were used to see Sherlock Holmes who was a fictional private detective character created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a “consulting detective” in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency. Those were the days when all TV and Film detectives were played by male actors and all of a sudden news appears on woman detective, that too real, and from Mumbai! She became the subject of discussions. She reached to the peak of fame and subject of documentaries and films. In a 1998 interview, Pandit said that her firm had handled “domestic problems, company espionage, missing people and murders” throughout India and abroad, sometimes in disguise. “I’ve played a maid-servant, a blind woman, a pregnant woman, a dumb woman,” she said. In another case, she pretended to be a lunatic to investigate two business executives.
The business flourished, and looking at her, the private detectives mushroomed in the city. These detectives were getting hired by high profile businesses, politicians and celebrity couples snooping on each other. Mega bucks were involved in this secret business. Today, police, intelligence, government machineries became more active with their advanced investigative methods. The local informers played very crucial role in detecting crime and the emphasis from such detectives shifted. That is the reason, a group of private detectives are trapped and arrested by Mumbai police and one of them is Rajani Pandit, pertaining to procurement of Call Detail Records (CDR) illegally. Pandit is the daughter of Police Inspector Shantaram Pandit, who is known to be a part of the team that probed the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The woman claims to have solved over 75,000 cases. Pandit’s arrest comes after Thane Crime Branch arrested other four private detectives who procured and sold CDRs.
So far there is no news about those Telecom (Government and Private) people who sold the CDRs. They are not even mentioned by police anywhere. The telecom operators, whether private or state owned too, should be booked for allowing their staff to steal these vital info. Public privacy and their personal matters are compromised for which these telecom operators should also be held responsible. Moreover almost all detectives use secretive means to achieve their information. No detective obtains information publicly, so shouldn’t all detectives be arrested for obtaining information through secretive means? Why target few and let the rest get away with their methods? And why are the companies, who provided this information, not being accused of breaking the law? This case brings to light not just a complicit police but also an equally complicit Magistrate. Before TRAI, the police made a case of being able to solve 98 per cent of crime using CDR and hence this law was brought in. Misuse is a norm in India anyway. Police reforms, Administrative reforms, judicial reforms which would never happen can only handle such issues. Pandit was picked up from her house after one of the arrested detectives, Samresh Jha told police he had sourced CDRs on her instructions and delivered it to her “for a hefty price”.
A police officer said that there were strong evidences to show Pandit had demanded and bought CDRs of at least five people. The other detectives those arrested are Santosh Pandgale and Prashant Sonawane (34) from Navi Mumbai. Pandit’s statement has been recorded and cops are questioning her for any leads in the racket, which seems to be much bigger. There would be more arrests, because most detectives brazenly promised their clients CDRs for a big sum. Police have also zeroed in on a Delhi man who was reportedly providing CDRs to the accused.
Rajani Pandit was born in Palghar, in the Thane district of Maharashtra. She studied Marathi literature at Ruparel College in Mumbai where she first became interested in detective work when, in 1983, she investigated a classmate who was involved in prostitution. Now she owns a company called “Rajani Pandit Detective Services”, also known as Rajani Investigation Bureau. She set up an office in Mahim, Mumbai and employed a staff of 30 detectives and was handling about 20 cases a month. Her investigations are going to be made as feature film named as Kuttrapayirchi. South actress Trisha will be reprising the character role of Rajani Pandit.
Selling or sharing CDRs is a crime but Private Investigators are professionals, contracted to find information and obtain evidence. They are typically hired by private citizens, businesses and lawyers, and they occasionally work alongside law enforcement. Nothing much can be exposed by just arresting these detectives. Police needs to arrest the other counter parts too, to expose this entire scam.
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