Bhubaneswar, Dec. 8: Sub-inspector Om Vivek Patnaik of Bargarh police station last evening drove to a beauty parlour on Lewis Road here in his new car to collect Rs 2,000 as “protection money”.
A few minutes later, the policeman lost both the car and his freedom after vigilance sleuths caught him red-handed and an angry mob set his vehicle ablaze, also demanding that he be paraded in public.
Deputy superintendent of police (vigilance) Premananda Parida, who, along with his colleagues lay in wait for the officer, said Patnaik had demanded Rs 2,000 from parlour owner Tabu Tabassum earlier as well.
“This time again he told her that police had been instructed to raid beauty parlours. The owner was told that she had to pay up if she wanted protection,” the DSP said.
The vigilance officials, on receiving the information from Tabassum, dipped the 100-rupee notes — which were to be given as bribe — in a chemical solution.
“A person who handles such smeared notes is made to wash his hand. The solution will then turn pink,” said a senior vigilance official. And pink it turned in Patnaik’s case as he washed his hand after receiving the money.
“The handwash of Patnaik gave a positive chemical reaction. A case was registered against him later,” Parida confirmed.
The sleuths said the officer tried to stash some of the notes inside his mouth when they confronted him. “He was desperate and gobbled some notes. But before he could cause any damage, the notes were recovered,” said an official.
The sub-inspector called up the parlour owner on Wednesday and again on Thursday afternoon demanding the money. Tabassum then decided to contact the vigilance officials.
Last evening, Patnaik went to the parlour in his new car, unaware that the vigilance officials were waiting for him.
After the news of his capture spread, a crowd gathered in the locality and demanded that the officer be paraded in public before the vigilance sleuths took him into custody.
Soon, the agitators spotted Patnaik’s car and set it ablaze. A fire-tender later doused the flames.
Khurda superintendent of police Amitabh Thakur visited Lewis Road to defuse the tension and a large number of policemen were also deployed.
Patnaik was forwarded to the Jharpada jail this afternoon after a court rejected his bail petition. The SP said the sub-inspector had also been suspended.
Six days ago, an inspector of Airfield police station, Biranjan Dwivedy, was caught taking Rs 1,500 from a person at his workplace. He, too, is now lodged in the Jharpada jail.
Around 100 “trap” cases are registered in Orissa every year, which constitute 33 per cent of the 300 offences booked by the vigilance department.