The closest the Mumbai Police Crime Branch had come to tracking down suspended DCP Saurabh Tripathi – wanted in the angadia extortion case registered exactly six months ago — was in March last week when he managed to give a slip to the police team that raided his relative’s residence in Lucknow by staying at a rented flat that was located seven to eight houses down the road from the relative’s house.
As soon as he heard about the police raid taking place nearly 200 metres away, Tripathi fled. Realising it was his burner phone and online activity that led police to his relative’s residence, he stopped using a cellphone and the trail has gone cold ever since.
The Mumbai Police had on February 19 registered an FIR against three policemen and arrested them for demanding money from angadias by extorting them.
Later, the police named Tripathi as a wanted accused, as the arrested officers claimed they were working on his orders. Tripathi, however, had fled by then.
Tripathi’s brother-in-law has also been arrested and the police have named his father as a wanted accused. Recently, the Mumbai Police filed a chargesheet against the arrested three policemen, who are now out on bail.
An officer said that soon after they named Tripathi as an accused mid-March, the 2010 batch IPS officer, who has a MD degree and is a qualified dermatologist, had first sought assistance from a college mate residing in the western suburbs. He had used her phone to make calls.
However, by the time the police tracked the calls, he had fled to Lucknow where his parents, maternal uncle and in-
laws reside. While his father was a manager in a major public sector bank, his father-in-law was an IAS officer.
An officer said, “At one point, there were five locations – his college mate’s house at Navi Mumbai, a batchmate’s house at Rajasthan and three relatives’ places in Lucknow – where we suspected him to be holed up.
Five teams raided these spots at the same time so that he could not get prior intimation. However, we could not find him.”
The officer added, “He knows exactly what tools we would use to track him down and managed to stay a step ahead and later moved to Lucknow.”
“Because of the clout he enjoyed in Gomati Nagar, he kept staying in different places there,” the officer said. He also used burner phones and Internet services to remain below the radar.
The crime branch team, however, kept tracking him. “For a few days, there was no activity. However, one fine day, we found some activity in an area where his relative resided in Gomati Nagar. Our team conducted a raid immediately but he was not there. Later, we found he had taken a place on rent just a few houses down the block and fled from there after finding out about the police raid,” an officer added.
Then Mumbai Police commissioner Sanjay Pandey monitored the probe and after it was established that links of Tripathi’s brother-in-law Ashutosh Mishra and father had emerged in connection with receiving the money collected from angadias, he decided to name both as accused.
Mishra was arrested and remains behind bars.
It was believed that this would pressurise Tripathi to surrender but the ploy did not work.
In April, Tripathi approached the Supreme Court and sought that his case be transferred to the CBI.
He alleged that he had been named as an accused by former Mumbai Police commissioner Hemant Nagrale and Joint Commissioner (Law & Order) Vishwas Nangre Patil, as he refused to head the SIT against suspended former city police chief Param Bir Singh.
He, however, later withdrew the plea and has not sought legal recourse ever since.
While three of the co-accused are now out on bail, a senior police officer said they have adopted a “wait and watch” approach in anticipation of Tripathi approaching the court.
“We suspect that once his brother-in-law, who has now approached the sessions court, gets bail, Tripathi will approach the Bombay High Court.”