THE SIX accused arrested by the Mumbai crime branch in connection with the officer transfer racket have allegedly told the police that three IPS officers had approached them two days before the police raid at a hotel room on May 31. Of the three, a senior officer of the Maharashtra police was interested in the post of the Navi Mumbai police commissioner and had allegedly paid Rs 3 crore for it, the accused told the police.
The Mumbai Police crime branch is verifying these claims and depending upon the evidence available, the future course of action will be decided, a senior officer said. When the police raided room no 2102 at the five-star hotel in the Mumbai suburbs, they found the four accused — Vidyasagar Hirmukhe, Ravindra Yadav, Kishore Mali and Vishal Omble — in the hotel room, along with the complainant, deputy police commissioner Namdeo Chavan. An officer said, “When they were placed under arrest, one of the accused claimed that they had met at least three IPS officers in the same room two-three days before the raid.” He added, “One of the officers, a senior IPS officer from Maharashtra police, had paid Rs 3 crore already for the post of Navi Mumbai police commissioner.”
Incidentally, the police found two cheques of Rs 5 crore each from the room, signed but not drawn in favour of anyone. An officer said, “There is another officer who was interested in a ‘posting at Konkan Bhavan’.” Inspector General (Konkan range) sits at Konkan Bhavan, while senior officers of the Navi Mumbai police operate from an adjacent building.
“The interested officer had already turned in a cheque of Rs 6 lakh, which the police found in room 2102 during the raid,” the officer added.
Apart from the IPS officers, a source said that the accused also claimed an inspector-level officer from the Mumbai crime branch had also approached them. “The officer from a crime branch unit wanted a transfer to Palghar police. The deal had been struck for Rs 25 lakh, of which Rs 5 lakh had been paid, the accused have claimed,” a source said. He added, “As part of the routine transfer recently, the officer was moved to a side posting.”
When asked about involvement of IPS officers, a senior officer heading the probe said, “I cannot comment on that. We do not know who came and went before our team raided the room…We are interrogating the main accused currently. Let us settle down..We will later go through the evidence (about involvement of IPS officers).”
On being questioned about the transfer of the crime branch inspector, the officer said, “There was a routine internal transfer within the crime branch after some new officers from outside the city were inducted. Transfers are based on performance, exigency and where a particular officer is more suitable.”
An officer said, “The six accused arrested in the case — two other accused were arrested later — were well connected politically at some point. However, we do not know if they were just claiming to be well connected currently and conning the officers. Even if an officer lost money, he could obviously not register any complaint against the accused. It was a win-win situation for the accused.” All six accused have been remanded in police custody till June 12.