Investigators, probing an alleged extortion racket run by a 52-year-old motor parts businessman who posed as a civic body engineer or RTI activist to threaten people, are probing the role of a retired assistant director in MCD’s slum wing as they try to get to the root of the racket.
Sources said the retired official allegedly taught Anil Dutt Sharma, arrested on Tuesday, how to file RTIs and what information to seek.
Through RTIs, Sharma extracted information on illegal constructions and, in collusion with MCD officials, allegedly extorted money from their owners, sources said.
Police have seized 50,000 pages of RTI documents, among other papers, from Sharma’s residence along with his laptop and a computer.
Though investigators are yet to establish the identity of the retired MCD official, local residents they spoke to described the official as an old bearded man and a regular visitor to Sharma’s residence at B-14, Dilshad Garden.
Local residents told investigators that Sharma too would visit the official, who reportedly lives in Patparganj, East Delhi.
Investigators are now on the lookout for this man, who they believe would be able to shed more light on Sharma and his alleged illegal activities.
Whether the retired MCD official, too, lined his pockets through Sharma’s illegal activities is being probed.
Sharma was arrested by the state government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) on Tuesday.
Posing as a junior engineer in the MCD or an RTI activist, he usually targeted people carrying out illegal constructions in East, Northeast and South Delhi to extort money.
If the property owners fell in line, he would allegedly strike deals with MCD officials, offering them a cut in return for not taking action against the illegal constructions.
It was only when a builder, fed up with Sharma’s continuous demands for money, approached the ACB that Sharma was arrested. He was caught red-handed accepting Rs 1 lakh from a builder in Shahdara.
Explaining his modus operandi, a source in the ACB said Sharma would first identify properties with illegal constructions. Then, he would direct six cameramen he had hired to take pictures of the illegal portions.
“He would set out early in the morning around 5 am since all the shops in the area would be shut and residents would still be asleep. He would then ask his men to take pictures if he found a plank in a shop extended or an asbestos sheet placed in a manner exceeding its area requirement,” an officer explained.
He would then file an RTI, seeking details of the property, the area’s junior engineer, assistant engineer and executive engineer, and details on how many times MCD officials had carried out inspections, if any, and whether the said building followed rules laid down by the department.