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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Meerut Police drive against corruption nets its gallantry medallist for this year

Bijendra Pal Rana was picked for the award for gunning down Shiv Shakti Naidu, a dreaded criminal who faced serious charges in about 25 cases and had a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head, during an encounter in Meerut last year.

Written by Amit Sharma | Meerut |
Updated: September 2, 2021 1:15:05 pm
Head Constable Manmohan; (right) Sadar Bazar thana In-Charge Bijendra Pal Rana

A crackdown launched by Meerut Police to weed out corruption within its ranks has led to 75 personnel being pulled out and shunted to Police Lines, 53 constables getting transferred, and an Inspector and Sub-Inspector “absconding” after being cornered for accepting bribes.

But what has really left senior officers red-faced is that the Inspector on the radar was picked for the national Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG) this Independence Day.

Bijendra Pal Rana, 47, who heads the Sadar Bazar Police Station, was among nine from UP Police on this year’s PMG list. He was picked for the award for gunning down Shiv Shakti Naidu, a dreaded criminal who faced serious charges in about 25 cases and had a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head, during an encounter in Meerut last year.

On Tuesday evening, a case of bribery was registered against Rana and Head Constable Manmohan by Meerut SSP Prabhakar Chaudhary.

“Based on evidence in connection with a fake case of a truck theft lodged to claim insurance benefits at the Sadar Bazar station, an FIR was lodged against the in-charge Rana and Head Constable Manmohan. Both were found to have indulged in corrupt practices to hush up the case. The Head Constable was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000 in this connection,” said SSP Chaudhary.

Police sources told The Indian Express that after he went missing from the station, Rana posted on a police WhatsApp group that he was going to Prayagraj to file a Civil Application (CA) in the Allahabad High Court. “The arrested Head Constable has levelled baseless charges of corruption against me. I will be happy if an impartial inquiry is conducted in this regard,” Rana told reporters.

When contacted, Meerut SP Vineet Bhatnagar said: “No policemen can leave the town for filing a CA without permission from the SSP. Teams have been formed to nab the police station in-charge.”

According to state officials, names for the police medal are finalised after a multi-layered vetting process. “Each name is recommended by IG or ADGP-rank officers to the UP DGP after magisterial and police inquiries. At the DGP headquarters, a committee examines each case and forwards it to the state government. Another committee at the state level examines the case again before recommending it to the Ministry of Home Affairs,” said an official.

UP DGP Mukul Goel told The Indian Express that Rana’s name has already been declared for the medal. “The present case against him was lodged yesterday and we are getting it examined,” Goel said. Another senior officer said the medal for an operation last year and the case registered Tuesday “are two different events”.

Rana was posted to the Sadar Bazar station just six months ago. On February 19, 2020, as station in-charge of Meerut’s Kankarkheda, he had led the team that shot Naidu. Naidu and some of his accomplices were said to have reached Vaishno Dham Colony in Kankarkheda to target a property dealer.

According to police, the case in which Rana faces corruption charges is based on an anonymous letter that alerted police to a deal being allegedly struck at the Sadar Bazar police station. The FIR accuses Rana and Manmohan of allegedly accepting Rs 3 lakh from a truck owner to facilitate his claim for insurance money after he sold his vehicle illegally and registered a complaint that it had been stolen.

The anti-corruption crackdown was launched two months ago by Chaudhary, a 2010-batch IPS officer who took charge in Meerut on June 18. Sources said the SSP first summoned the in-charges of all 32 stations in Meerut and gave Rs 1,000 to each of them from a “discretionary fund”. “He said there was no need to seek money from others to buy snacks and tea at stations,” sources said.

They said Rana was among those who were present.

(With Manish Sahu in Lucknow)

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