THE MUMBAI Police Crime Branch that arrested four persons from a five-star hotel in the suburbs on Thursday for allegedly accepting money to transfer senior government officials to other posts, found some “confidential documents” in the room.
Refusing to divulge the nature of the documents, an officer said that these papers should ideally not have left a government office. The police have also found three cheques worth over Rs 10.4 crore that were signed but not drawn out in the name of anyone and Rs 6 lakh in cash in the hotel room from where the accused had been arrested.
Sources privy to the investigation said all four accused, one each from Delhi, Solapur, Pune and Mumbai, claimed to be well connected.
Ravindra Singh Yadav, alias Sharma, a Delhi-based accused is suspected to have played a major role in the racket. He allegedly carried a visiting card identifying himself as a member of the “censor board”.
“Yadav, who has studied till Class XII, would claim that he was associated with the Information and Broadcasting ministry. He said he had contacts across other central ministries through which he could claim to arrange for transfers of government officials,” an officer linked to the probe said.
Kishore Mali, from Solapur, who first contacted the Deputy Police Commissioner, Namdeo Chavan, is known to have worked as a personal assistant to a former Congress minister, a senior officer said. He knew that Chavan, the complainant in the case, resided in Navi Mumbai and was posted at Solapur.
Sensing that Chavan would be interested in getting a transfer to Navi Mumbai or somewhere nearer to his house, Mali approached him first. “Mali told Chavan that if he was interested in getting a transfer, he could meet Mali’s superior, Yadav, who would come down from Delhi to see him. Aware that Chavan was in Mumbai, he offered to book a Mumbai-based five star hotel where Chavan could meet Yadav,” the officer said.
After Chavan tipped off the police about the racket, the accused were arrested from the hotel room.
Vidya Sagar Hirmukhe, who was earlier in a senior position in the Maharashtra home ministry, was also known to have worked in close proximity of a former minister of state in the past. Later, he worked at a high position in Mahanand dairy before he was arrested. Hirmukhe was known to Mali and another Pune-based accused, Vishal Omble.
Omble was known for roaming in a vehicle with a red beacon and he would claim that he knew several people in the central government. He has around four cases registered against him in Pune some of which deal with cheating people by claiming to get their work done with help of his contacts.
A senior officer said: “We have formed four teams to probe the matter. One of the teams will go to Delhi as part of the investigation. We want to find out how many people have been duped by the accused so far. We are also checking if anyone else was involved in the racket. We have their custody till June 7.”