The high price that the nation and its people have been paying for so long due to the nexus of criminals, police and politicians has been revealed time and again in many places and many episodes. This has been the subject of much-concerned discussion and important, well-documented official reports have been prepared on this. Yet the overall result that has emerged so far is that the nexus has been getting worse, all the more so in recent times. There can be no be stronger evidence of this than the very recent happenings in the finance capital of the nation, Mumbai, which have wider implications for the entire state of Maharashtra and in fact also at the national level.
To make a very long story rather short, there is one very important politician and minister in Maharashtra in a crucial ministry, let us call him Mr D, who had a great intention of collecting Rs 1 billion (100 crore) per month in illegal, únaccounted collections from bar owners and other such operators in Mumbai. For this he needed a suitable person in a top police position in the city.
He thought Mr P may be the right person for this. Mr P had also been making desperate efforts to get this top position anyway. So Mr P was brought in for this post, ignoring the claims of more senior persons known for their honesty. Now when Mr P was asked to do the job, he indicated that he in turn needed his own man for the collection and for other special work.
The man he mentioned, one Mr V, was one who is alleged to have been an encounter specialist of the Mumbai police earlier implicated in around 60 such killings. For some such allegations he had been suspended. Searching for more money-making avenues he joined a leading political party and took up assignments where his intimidating personality and tactics could be put to productive use by those who could afford to pay for this (things like loan-recovery etc.). The challenge for Mr D was how to accept the demand of Mr P to bring back such a long-suspended officer in police force.
This was sorted out by appointing a committee which recommended that the return of the great and dedicated Mr V was needed for Covid -19 related duties! Mr V could not be a given a very high rank, of course, but the responsibility and power he was given was exceptionally high for his rank, and this is what he needed. Soon as Mr V joined, he got into action, as befitting his reputation. He drove around in a Mercedes, also using the vehicle for going to office, promptly asked someone to book a room in a leading five star hotel, the more expensive one, from where he operated with gusto.
However such a man is prone to getting too big for his boots, as he promptly did by planning a Bollywood-style plot. A car with explosives was found near the house of a billionaire, and the man to whom the car was traced, Mr H, was found to be close to the distinguished Mr V and in fact may have given this car to him for an extended period. To make matters worse, Mr V was also initially given the charge of investigating the case!
Mr H was mysteriously killed, and his wife accused Mr V. Mr V was arrested. Meanwhile Mr D had fallen out with Mr P and transferred him to a post of much less power. Mr P now emerged in the role of a crusader against corruption and openly declared that Mr D had asked him to collect a billion Rs illegally a month for him.
Mr D was now in danger. So his political boss got in touch with a very important politician in the Union Government. Did they meet to make a deal? As a result is there a threat to the state government? What will be the impact of this on Mr P and Mr V? Mr V seems to be doomed, and to get out of this will he make some damaging disclosures?
This is an on-going story, and many answers are still to emerge. Also there can be more than one explanation of the emerging reality as some of this is still shrouded in secrecy or lack of clarity. The purpose here is only one of providing a brief framework which would give an idea of the kind of close nexus of crime, police and politicians that exists.
Among other questions that remain to be answered, consider the following-Mr P revealed that he had been asked to make the collection but he revealed this much after the discussion with the minister for this took place. What is not clear is the exact reply he gave at the time of the discussion to the minister? Did he say yes or no? In the intervening period since then ( till he was transferred) did he keep making at least a part of the collection?
The fact that Mr. V had settled himself in a 5 star hotel would indicate that the work had started with the likely collusion of Mr P. What exactly were the activities of Mr V after his return to the police force and to what extent were Mr P and Mr D aware of this?
In such deals to what extent politicians like Mr D transfer all money received to their political party, and to what extent they keep a part for their own use ? To what extent senior officials like Mr P keep a part of the booty? To what extent a relatively junior official like Mr V gets to keep a part of the booty? To what extent is this shared with others?
What is the impact of such collection on actual crime? Bar owners and others like them are not going to part with a billion Rs. in a month for nothing. Will they get silent permission for illegal trade in liquor, drugs or will they get permission for other related activities like prostitution in return for such donations? And once such extortion gets acceptance as a regular activity at very high levels, where does it stop?
A very senior retired police official known for highest levels of integrity has stated that depravation to such an extent had not existed in his time. So one can take him at his word that the situation has been worsening instead of improving. Also it is clear that many honest police officers are very unhappy at all this as their brave and honest efforts are not rewarded, the most corrupt get all the benefits and the name of the entire police force is tarnished.
It is equally clear from past records that when very honest police officials including women officials have been given big responsibilities they have succeeded in reducing crime and even taming the encounter specialists by showing them their place. Also there must be at least some honest politicians still left. It is time for these honest people to make themselves heard as this crisis has now focused a lot of public attention on this nexus and now may be just the right time for the honest to speak up in a united voice.
[The writer is a journalist-author who has written on public interest issues for 49 years. His latest books include Protecting Earth for Children and Man Over Machine] Courtesy: Frontier; Pic courtesy: The Print