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Former stamps officer in scam net

Mumbai, Dec. 8: The special investigation team probing the Rs 39,000-crore fake stamp paper scam has finally netted a man who can explain the “technique that was employed in the… racket’’.

The team today arrested Baban Tukaram Ranjana, a former superintendent of stamps (Mumbai) and charged him under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act for his links with scam mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi. A Pune court later remanded him in police custody till December 16.

Sources said the former stamps officer could explain how Telgi bought out the men at Nashik’s India Security Press and expanded his crime empire.

Ranjana has been accused of cultivating ties with Telgi’s crime syndicate while he was a stamps department employee.

State prosecutors said he refused to take any action against three of Telgi’s firms when the matter came up before him. Ranjana retired as deputy superintendent of stamps in Mumbai in February last year. “The accused knew what was being done by the prime accused, Telgi, through his three firms to circulate fake stamp papers but did not take any action,’’ prosecutor Raja Thakre said.

Assistant commissioner of police M.C. Mulani, who was arrested last week for his role in the scam, was today remanded in police custody till December 16.

K.K. Parmar, a sub-inspector, swelled the ranks of arrested policemen when he was picked up in connection with the scam.

Mulani, seen by many as the key accused in the scam and the person who directly led to the downfall of former Mumbai police commissioner Ranjit Singh Sharma, is alleged to have approached Telgi while he was in a Bangalore jail and asked for a Rs 2-crore bribe. The money was reportedly demanded for “dropping the names of Telgi’s wife and another family member’’ from the chargesheet filed by Bund Garden police in Pune.

Sources said Karnataka police have secretly-recorded audiotapes containing Mulani’s conversations with Telgi at Bangalore Central jail. The former assistant commissioner is alleged to have accepted a first installment of Rs 15 lakh from Telgi.

A team from the anti-corruption bureau raided Mulani’s houses in Pune and Mumbai today. The raids were conducted till late tonight and sources said they would continue tomorrow.

Thakre said in court today that Mulani must remain in police custody as “interrogations of the former Mumbai police commissioner (Sharma) had thrown some new light in the case. There are materials on ground to show that Mulani had demanded Rs 2 crore from the organised crime syndicate (of Telgi) and had received Rs 15 lakh”.

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