Mumbai, Nov. 15: Taking cognizance of a private complaint for the first time since its inception in 1999, the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court yesterday kickstarted proceedings in a case that could hurt Mumbai police, senior politicians and even a few Hindi film actors.
The case has been filed on a petition by Ketan Tirodkar, a former journalist and self-confessed underworld mole, who wants to “expose’’ the links of the underworld with the entire system in Mumbai.
In an explosive statement (a copy of which is with The Telegraph) before judge A.P. Bhangale, Tirodkar details how he fooled a Gujarat riot victim and brought him to a secluded place for an encounter stage-managed by some police officers.
The petition says the victim, Sadiq Mahater, an 18-year-old working in Dubai, was killed in an “encounter” by Gujarat police on January 13 this year. Police later said Sadiq had come to kill Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
The encounter death is just one of the instances that Tirodkar, who could himself be arrested under the stringent Maharashtra act, highlights in his 21-page court statement.
There are 39 witnesses named in the case, among them deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, actors Jeetendra and Bipasha Basu as well as Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar. The court has said summons will be sent to some witnesses on Monday and they will be examined from Thursday.
Tirodkar has named as main accused police inspector Daya Nayak, the producer of Kagaar, Mrinalini Patil, businessman R.C. Agarwal, underworld don Chhota Shakeel and Fahim Machmach, deputy to Dawood Ibrahim.
Nayak, Mumbai police’s poster boy, has earned a reputation as an encounter specialist that has served as inspiration for flicks like Kagaar and the yet-to-be-released Ab Tak Chhappan.
Nayak, Agarwal and Machmach also find themselves in the dock over allegations made by Janata Dal (Secular) national general secretary Mohammad Rafiq Shaikh. The politician has released copies of an audiotape purportedly containing conversations between Machmach and Agarwal in which the cop's name crops up often as a “friend”.
The tape, whose authenticity is yet to be verified, has Machmach telling Agarwal, who wants business rival Tejpal Singh to be bumped off, to let things “cool down a bit” as “bade bhai (Dawood) doesn’t want any trouble right now”.
Even so, Nayak is confident nothing will come of the case. “I don’t even have one per cent of worry regarding Tirodkar who is working for Shakeel,’’ the inspector said. He insisted certain Mumbai police officers were being harassed at the underworld’s behest. “I am willing to face the court as I have nothing to hide and everyone knows the work I have done,’’ Nayak said. The inspector said the police department had overwhelming evidence against Tirodkar.
The former journalist may be acting at the behest of a powerful lobby, but the details he has provided on the cop-underworld-Bollywood-politician nexus make for compelling reading.
Accusing a hot and happening Hindi film actress of being a police informer, the petition says she told a police officer that a recent movie had money pumped in by don Abu Salem.
Tirodkar says he can prove everything in court if the matter comes up during investigation. “I can tell you how much money I received from underworld dons and who are the politicians and policemen who distributed it among themselves,’’ he said.
The former journalist added that last year he had accompanied a popular yesteryears’ actor and a police officer to meet a senior NCP leader over the posting of an IPS officer.
The recorded statement details how encounters are engineered and how policemen routinely pay for their transfers and postings.
Tirodkar, who admits partial responsibility for the killing of innocents in fake encounters and confesses to being a middleman in extortions, has begged for pardon under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. He claims he was just a conduit.
“I am willing to rot in prison if the court holds me guilty,’’ he said, “but my allegations have to be seriously looked into. Maybe I am signing my death wish by doing this, but I have been forced to.’’
The story will unravel only after the court begins examining witnesses from Thursday. But what is clear is that the story is the murkiest - and deadliest - to have found its way into the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court.