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Mafia link slur on top Mumbai cop

Mumbai, Oct. 16: A journalist made a dramatic entry into a courtroom today seeking protection and accusing a top Mumbai police officer of links with the mafia.

Ketan Tirodkar jumped into the witness box even as cops tried to hold him down and pleaded with Justice Ranjana Desai to hear him out.

A sensational half-hour later, during which Ketan painted a fearful and subversive world of cops working directly for the mafia with journalists like him acting as intermediaries, the court ordered Mumbai police to protect him and listed his case for hearing tomorrow.

Ketan accused the police officer — known as an encounter specialist and inspiration for Ram Gopal Verma’s coming movie Ab Tak Chhappan — of working with gangster Chhota Shakeel.

For a police force whose morale has taken a big beating in recent years, the “confessions and allegations’’ of Ketan — who today detailed how he worked as a middleman for Shakeel, engineering encounters and aiding extortions — have come as a resounding slap in the face. But police sources say they have enough evidence to nail the journalist, adding that he was being watched for a long time.

Ketan said he had spilled the beans because he was “tired of leading a double life, working for criminals masquerading as cops and fearing for my life all the time’’.

Asked why he had come up with the “truth” now, the journalist said: “It was on October 8 that I wrote a detailed letter to Mumbai police commissioner R.S. Sharma.”

According to Ketan, in the letter he confessed his own and the police officer’s guilt in crimes that should attract provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.

“But there was no reply from the police headquarters till yesterday evening. That is when I decided that enough is enough and barged into the high court today,’’ Ketan said.

The journalist added that he was being shadowed by the police and criminals and feared he would be bumped off.

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