Three officers of the Special Task Force (STF) and the then station house officer (SHO) of Banthara police station in Lucknow were booked on Sunday for trying to extort around Rs 36 lakh in foreign currency from three flyers heading to the Middle East from the city airport more than a month ago, police said.
An FIR was registered again-st STF circle officer Vijay Pratap Yadav, STF inspector Zainuddin Ansari, STF constable Rakesh Singh and then SHO Brijesh Singh, on the directions of state DGP Om Prakash Singh following an inquiry report by Luck-now SSP Kalanidhi Naithani. The SHO was transferred to police lines after the incident.
According to the FIR, the flyers — Kanpur resident Salauddin, Pratapgarh resident Shahnawaz and Lukmaam from Lucknow — were detained by the STF for trying to smuggle Dinars valued at around Rs 36 lakh from the airport on March 3. The four officers allegedly extorted the money from them and beat them up at Banthara police station, said a senior police officer from Lucknow.
As per STF claims, the three were later reportedly taken to Kanpur as they told the STF officers about more foreign currency there. The three men fled from there.
An STF statement had earlier claimed to have seized the currency in Lucknow and deposited it in a Kanpur police station. Four people were named accused for carrying foreign currency, the statement read.
The police officer from Lucknow said on condition of anonymity that suspicion grew after it was found that the Banthara SHO mentioned ATS instead of STF in the general diary on March 3. Also, those detained should have been taken to Krishna Nagar police station under whose jurisdiction the Lucknow airport falls, said the official.
Later, a video showed a man, claiming to be Lukmaan, making allegations that STF officers took those detained from the airport to Banthara police station where they were beaten up and threatened.
“The whole story is that on March 3, STF officers brought the person to the (Banthara) police station and went to Kanpur where they deposited the amount the next day. It is to be investigated whether they deposited the whole amount or not. Meanwhile, an FIR has been registered against the officials under the IPC section 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery) and section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act,” said Krishna Nagar circle officer (CO) Lal Pratap Singh, who is investigating the case.
Talking to The Indian Express, SSP STF Abhishek Singh said the sections against the officials were not justified as they neither looted anyone nor took any bribe.
“I had no idea that an investigation was going on in the case. The STF officers have already been transferred after the controversy as they violated protocols. I have read the FIR and they have been booked under IPC section 394 and the anti-corruption Act. These sections are invoked against someone who has robbed someone or taken a bribe. But I do not know why these sections have been applied against them. The income-tax department has already taken statements from those caught with the amount earlier,” said SSP STF Abhishek Singh.
He said the money belonged to one Haider Ali.
“I do not know who is Lukmaan. In March when I asked the STF team, I was told that one Salauddin was with it, while the money belonged to one Haider Ali. We had then mentioned this even in our press note that Salauddin and one Shahnawaz were caught in Lucknow and told the team that more money is in Kanpur with one Shavez. When they did not find anything in Kanpur, the money was seized from there,” he said.