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Telgi case sleuths pin hope on prize catch

Mumbai, Dec. 5: The arrest of assistant commissioner of police M.C. Mulani may be the undoing of several players in the fake stamp paper scam who are now in the shadows.

The special investigation team probing the Rs 39,000-crore scam is hoping Mulani will spill the beans and help wind up the inquiry.

Mulani was caught on a secretly-recorded tape asking for a Rs 3-crore bribe from scam mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi in a Bangalore jail. The purpose, sources alleged, was to “delete” the names of Telgi’s wife and daughter — included wrongly — from the chargesheet prepared by Bund Garden police in Pune.

Mulani, arrested yesterday in a late-night swoop in Pune, was today remanded in magisterial custody till December 8. Suspended seven days before he was to retire on August 31, he was absconding for over a month.

“He is a key man, perhaps even the most crucial till now,’’ a police source said today. “He knows and can tell more about the scam and the role of police and politicians in shielding Telgi and benefiting from it than anyone else.’’

The SIT has in its possession the taped conversation in question between Mulani and Telgi’s lawyer Rashid Kulkarni, who is in jail now.

Mulani was one of the first investigating officers in the case whose role in the scam directly led to the arrest of former Mumbai police chief R.S. Sharma. The story of Mulani, slapped with the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, goes back to when he was the supervisory officer of inspector Prakash Deshmukh (of Bund Garden), who initially investigated the scam.

The Karnataka government had informed then additional chief home secretary Ashoke Basak about the bribe. He, in turn, informed Sharma, then Pune police commissioner, who chose to ignore it and allow Mulani to continue in the investigating team.

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