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Police sink deeper in stamp scam

Mumbai, Nov. 9: The shocking role reversal continued for Mumbai police commissioner Ranjit Singh Sharma when he was put through a fresh round of interrogation by the special investigation team (SIT) looking into the Rs 3,000-crore fake stamp paper scam.

The police chief, who will retire at the end of this month, was questioned for six hours yesterday over two sessions for his alleged links with Abdul Karim Telgi, the scam mastermind.

The team today also arrested two sub-inspectors — Jangle of Thane police and Nemade of Nasik — from their respective headquarters, SIT sources said. The number of arrests in the scam has risen to 61, including joint commissioner of police Sreedhar Vagal.

The sources said Sharma, one of the seniormost police officers in the state, was called to the team’s Worli office and questioned by S.S. Puri, a retired director-general of police. Bombay High Court has vested Puri with powers akin to that of a working director-general of police while directing the team to file its report by November 12.

In probing Sharma’s role, the team is focusing on an affidavit filed by senior IPS officer Samshuddin Mushrif. He has alleged that Sharma — then the Pune police commissioner — shielded corrupt officers and failed to investigate the scam when it was unearthed two years ago with the seriousness it warranted.

The sources said Sharma was questioned on what he did in his capacity as the Pune police chief when he heard about the scam and why he had given additional commissioner M. Mulani, now suspended, a free hand despite knowing there was a case pending against him.

“What was more surprising was the fact that neither the government nor the DGP nor the CP (Sharma) found it necessary to inquire into the conduct of ACP Mulani for about one and a half months after the Karnataka government informed the Maharashtra government on September 2, 2002, about his telephonic conversation with Telgi. Not only was Mulani retained in the investigating team, but was also sent to Bangalore on September 18, 2002, for expediting the transfer of Telgi to Pune,” Mushrif, now sidelined as State Reserve Police Force deputy inspector-general, has said in his affidavit.

Another major charge against the Mumbai top cop is that he recommended Mulani’s felicitation knowing fully well his role in the scam. The interrogators were curious about the other tainted persons put in charge of the preliminary probe.

Sharma was also asked why certain persons — mostly Telgi’s associates and relatives — were mentioned in the chargesheet though they were not prima facie found to be involved in the scam.

Mushrif, who was in Pune as an additional police commissioner when Sharma was the chief, has further accused his senior of “overlooking” certain facts crucial to the case.

“(Certain documents) had been intentionally not brought on record and were being misused as an instrument of extortion,” he has said. “...What was more important was the revelation that Sharma was also aware that some important documents were intentionally not brought on record.”

An earlier panel probing the cop-criminal nexus in the stamp paper scam, the S.B. Jaiswal committee, had in its report held Sharma guilty of “acts of omission and commission”.

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