Patna, Jan. 20: Deputy inspector-general (DIG) of Saran range Alok Kumar could face disciplinary action for allegedly demanding Rs 10 crore as extortion from a UP-based liquor firm’s representative and intimidating him for his failure to pay it.
Inspector-general (budget) Anupama Nilekar Chandra today said a detailed probe was conducted to ascertain the role of the DIG after the firm’s representative, Tunna Ji Pandey, submitted a handwritten complaint to the director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand on January 13. The preliminary investigation found the allegation true, Nilekar said.
Inspector-general (IG), operations, Amit Kumar was assigned the probe. He submitted his report to the DGP on January 18.
Subsequently a case was lodged with the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) police station under sections 387 (extortion), 389 (putting person in fear of accusation of offence) and 109 (abetment) of the IPC and sections 8/9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
DIG Kumar refused to comment on the charges levelled on him. “I am busy. Call me later,” he told The Telegraph.
A 1997-batch IPS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, Kumar is on inter-state deputation in Bihar. A resident of Hilsa in Nalanda district, he had served as senior superintendent of police of Patna before being promoted to the rank of DIG and posted in Saran range, comprising Saran, Gopalganj and Siwan districts.
According to the complaint of Pandey, an employee of UP-based Co-operative Distillery Private Company Limited, he received a call on his cellphone on January 7. The caller, who introduced himself as Umesh Singh, asked Pandey to meet the DIG, Kumar, on January 10.
Umesh told Pandey that he would have to face the consequences if he failed to meet the officer.
When Pandey, a resident of Netwar village under Darauli police station in Siwan district, met the DIG at his official residence in Chhapra on January 10 with Umesh, the DIG allegedly demanded Rs 10 crore as extortion. The officer reportedly threatened him and his family with dire consequences if he failed to oblige him.
Sources in the state police headquarters said the conversation between Umesh and the DIG regarding the payment of extortion money from the liquor company’s agent had been video recorded. The DIG has been quoted as saying: “Jyada akad raha hai kya? (Does he dare to ignore?).”
The IPS officer, who came to Bihar on deputation in 2010, has been quoted repeatedly asking for the extortion money from Pandey at one go. The EOU officials associated with the investigation have procured the call details of three cellphone numbers.
Nilekar, the IG (budget), said two persons, Ajay Dubey and Deepak Abhishek, the latter a close friend of the accused officer, were arrested from Chhapra in Saran district yesterday while they were going to hand over Rs 5 lakh taken from the complainant to Kumar, the DIG. The money was recovered from their possession.
During the search of the duo’s houses, the EOU officials gathered corroborative evidence. A photograph of Abhishek with the DIG was seized from the house of the former.
A senior police officer said initially the two accused (Dubey and Abhishek) were supposed to be arrested red-handed with the extortion money at the official residence Kumar. But the decision was changed after the raiding team apprehended attack from the security personnel deployed at Kumar’s residence.
“The members of the raiding team were in civil dress. Had they carried out the operation at the IPS officer’s residence, the house guards and the security guards would have reacted and might have opened fire. We changed the plan at the eleventh hour to avert any untoward incident,” the officer said.
Sources said Pandey first approached deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and sought his help. Subsequently Modi talked to the state police chief over phone and sent Pandey to him with a member of the Legislative Council.
After Pandey narrated the incident to the DGP, the latter ordered a probe.
Pandey, in his complaint submitted to the DGP, claimed himself to be the representative of Co-operative Distillery Private Company Limited and another liquor manufacturing company — Doon Valley Distillers (based at Dehradun in Uttarakhand). Though the DIG has not been made a named accused in the FIR, its content clearly mentioned about his role in the episode.
“We decided not to mention his name as an accused. But we have gathered substantial evidence against him and they have already been mentioned in the FIR,” an investigating officer said.
The alleged involvement of the DIG in the extortion demand has evoked sharp reactions in the IPS fraternity. Former DGP Dhruv Prasad Ojha said such a case should be properly probed and the trial should be conducted on a priority basis.
“The government should treat it as a test case and investigation should be complete within three months. The case should be heard by a fast track court and the judgment should delivered within six months so that it worked as a deterrent to public servants involved in corrupt practices,” he said.
Ojha said had he been the state police chief now, he would have recommended severe punishment for such an officer.
A practising lawyer of the high court said everybody was equal before the law. “The law becomes stringent for the lawmakers and the law enforcers. The court never shows leniency towards such accused,” he said.