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Fact stares out of policeman’s fiction

Mumbai, May 7: This is a police story that will not go down too well with those who are part of the political system. For the “fiction” written by IPS officer Yogesh Pratap Singh is uncomfortably close to the truth.

Carnage by Angels is full of cops ever ready to please their political masters. It details crime and sex in the city as well as the power play among the high and the happening and could be the script for a Bollywood thriller. (Singh is reportedly writing one now.)

But it could just as well be the ‘real’ world, seen through the eyes of a young IPS officer still wet behind his ears, who has his idyll shattered and his romantic notions about the police force reduced to nought.

Singh, an officer in the state reserve police, says his work is pure fiction. But there are many who say it is not difficult to guess the real-life counterparts of the corrupt home minister, the ready-to-please police chief and the obsequious chief secretary.

The writer is unable to hide his bitterness at the corruptness of police officers and systematic subversion of justice. That Singh is not alone in feeling this way became apparent when former Mumbai police chief Julio Ribeiro mirrored his sentiments at the book’s release last evening.

The no-nonsense Ribeiro lashed out at the current set of police officers and the system that stymies their integrity. He slammed the “spineless policemen and their political masters.’’ Fiery as ever, Ribeiro said: “The system has gone crazy. Earlier, politicians had morals; now we have criminals representing us.’’

The corrupt home minister of Singh’s novel exists in the real world, he told those present at the release. Despite what the writer had to say to the contrary, Ribeiro wondered if the novel was mere fiction. “I wonder if it is fact or fiction,’’ the super-cop quipped.

Another former police chief A.S. Inamdar was present at the function. Inamdar, who resigned as DGP after a public spat with politicians, was equally critical of current officers. “You have become spineless,” he told the guests, mostly policemen. “You have sold your conscience and your morals. You are now trained to do just one thing, to say, ‘Yes sir, I will do it’. IPS officers have to start saying no to politicians. You have to take risks.’’

The former chief said corruption levels in Maharashtra had overtaken Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The timing of Singh’s novel hasn’t helped to quell conjecture that it is based on real life. The book comes in the wake of reports that senior politicians in Maharashtra openly floated tenders this year for plum police postings. Police and politicians allegedly also closed ranks to shield the main accused in the multi-crore Abdul Telgi stamp paper scam.

Carnage by Angels — “because policemen are supposed to do the work of angels” — describes graphically, as only a senior police officer can, how postings are sold by the fictional home minister Vaikunth Ramanand. The book also has a young IPS officer, Rohit Tiwari, buying a “profitable posting’’ as an additional commissioner in Mumbai for Rs 35 lakh.

Ranjeet Bedi figures in the book as an agent who “arranges” for police postings. Singh has Bedi telling his politician boss: “Sir, we have streamlined our payments system. We now have four options. The first is ‘pay and take’. The second is ‘pay as you earn’. The third option is to ‘relinquish your bribe incomes’- it’s been tailored for power-hungry officers. It’s also for saints - renounce all your collection points. Our own agents (will) then collect monthly amounts directly from the dens. The fourth option requires deftness – ‘get a sponsor (like a builder, gambling den owner) for the posting’.”

On hearing the plan, Heble, Ramanand’s son-in-law, praises Bedi for his “deftness.”'

Bedi then elaborates on how police officers recover their investments. This is like the Build, Operate and Transfer concept used in infrastructure projects, he says. “‘Buy’ posting, ‘Operate’ dens, share the proceeds and recover investment with profit. Thereafter, ‘Transfer’ the posting agreement.

“It’s like a bridge builder recovering investment from toll collection,” Bedi says.

There is mention of the home minister misusing his power, bringing to mind the allegations of selling police postings against the state home minister Chhagan Bhujbal.

The fictitious minister Ramanand removes the upright DGP, reminiscent of Inamdar’s “forced resignation”.

The IPS officer’s buying a police posting recalls the recent scandal in Mumbai where senior police officers wanting a particular post participated in “tenders” allegedly floated by the government. The one who bid the highest allegedly got the job.

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