Screenshots of an alleged bribe “rate list” circulated on social media platforms rocked the Gautam Budh Nagar police after it reached the top police brass early Friday morning. The list — which has phone numbers of nine local businessmen and the amount allegedly paid as bribes to various ranks of police officers in the district — led to the dissolution of the Special Operation Group (SOG) and 16 members of the team being sent to police lines as punishment.
From tickets for travelling to Bihar to procuring 9 mm pistols, from bribes for Holi to daily “mess” expenses — the messages shared on WhatsApp spell out the rates for various ‘jobs’. Of the nine names and phone numbers mentioned in the message, six are businessmen dealing in cement, one is a hotel owner in Dadri, while the rest are involved in the fuel or LPG business. The rate card claimed these people had paid money — between Rs 3,000-15,000 — and the officers.
By Friday afternoon, the matter had reached the state police headquarters in Lucknow when a tweet with the screenshots was marked to the UP Director General of Police.
“All 16 members of the team have been sent to police lines. An inquiry will be conducted by SP City. Following the inquiry, they might be suspended and further action will be taken against them if they are found guilty. The account from which the list had been tweeted has deleted the post. The account will also be verified,” said SSP Ajaypal Sharma.
Police sources said a tiff between two factions in the SOG team brought the issue to the fore. “We don’t know the authenticity of the allegations and an inquiry is going to be conducted. There was a scuffle between members of the team yesterday and hours later, this rate card became viral. It could just be an attempt to malign police,” a senior police officer said. Police sources said an SP-rank officer mentioned in the list has written to the SSP stressing on the need for a free and fair investigation.
The Indian Express tried to contact the businessmen on the list — while three phone numbers were switched off, three did not answer. One person claimed to be a security guard, one a salaried employee, and one said it was a wrong number.
Constituted by the SSP in each district, an SOG is supposed to formed to look into major murders and dacoity cases.