WHEN SENIOR POLICE OFFICERS HAVE BRUSH WITH THE LAW IN GOA
Goa has had some of the most controversial IPS officers in the recent past. In what could be a coincidence or an irony, these officers invite trouble for themselves during their posting in the susegado State, and it’s a record till date that all of them have gone scotfree.
To begin with the list is the then Chief of the anti-narcotics cell Veenu Bansal, whose transfer from Goa was amidst serious allegations against him. Way back in 2010, Bansal was instrumental in arresting Israeli drug dealer David Driham alias Dudu from Anjuna in what was termed as a major success. Soon thereafter, another Israeli drug dealer Yaniv Benaim alias Atala was caught on camera confessing police-politiciandrug mafia nexus.
The IPS officer became the toast of Goa Police for ‘taking on’ the powerful Israeli drug mafia. But these arrests ruffled the feathers of the police and the political establishment.
His name hit controversy after one of his subordinates in the ANC subinspector Sunil Guddler, was caught in a sting operation conducted by Dudu’s kin wherein the latter claimed that he paid hafta (protection money) from drug peddlers to his superior officer. Bansal had refused to make any comment even as deposition of the drug peddlers and over a dozen policemen – accused in the case – hinted at Bansal’s involvement into demanding and accepting bribe.
While several policemen were suspended and arrested within a span of 3-4 months after the expose, Bansal once again slipped into controversy as he was seen angling with friends aboard a marine police patrolling boat belonging to the marine police. A photograph published in a newspaper had shown Bansal’s guests wearing life jackets meant for Goa’s coastal security police force.
These two issues were enough for this officer to allegedly seek a transfer from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was approved and he was shunted to Arunachal Pradesh. The then State government did not take time to relieve him from Goa Police. However, even after over eight years of the drug nexus expose, the investigating team of Goa Police failed to summon him for questioning.
Insiders claim that Bansal pushed him then ANC team into trouble and he easily walked out of it without any action. Only time will tell whether the officer would ever be called for interrogation into the serious offense.
While the police department had still not come out of this controversy, another officer – this time a Goan officer promoted to IPS-rank Atmaram Deshpande was entangled into an alleged scam. During his then tenure as superintendent of police of the Valpoi police training school, Deshpande, it is learnt had swindled a large amount of money. The anti-corruption branch, after much hullabaloo in the State had initiated an inquiry also as a complaint was filed by NGO Generation Next for Goa, who demanded immediate inquiry into rampant corruption and illegal activities into the process of purchasing kit articles, law books/stationary items, electrical works and civil work done by the PWD at the PTS, Valpoi.
Deshpande was promoted to PS rank in the AGMUT-cadre in November 2011. Interestingly, while he had managed to stall his transfer in 2012 to Mizoram, in the very same pace he got an urgent transfer to the very same state after the issue snowballed into huge controversy in 2015. As the Goan lad conveniently moved out of Goa Police, over four years after ditching his first IPS posting in Mizoram; this corruption case is out of mind too as sadly, the ACB’s report to the government cited lack of evidence against him.
The story of controversial IPS officers in Goa does not end here and this time it involves inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police. The 1992-batch IPS officer Sunil Garg’s transfer from Goa Police was also amidst allegations of corruption leveled by a local businessman. Posted to Goa in September 2014, he was transferred to Delhi in October 2016.
What’s interesting is that the officer undertook various initiatives to make Goa Police public friendly and launched a Senior Citizen Helpline, dedicated e-mail for women complainants, women’s helpdesk in all police stations, held regular public meetings, started an anti-corruption helpline and upgraded the forensic science laboratory, and police website etc. In just a year of his posting he had received the highest awards for the police – President’s medal for various challenging tasks taken in his career.
Munnalal Halwai had spilled the beans when he recorded a conversation between him and the IPS officer that had the latter demanding bribe for registering a cheating case. Halwai alleged that the officer demanded and accepted Rs. 5.5 lakh to register a FIR at Ponda Police Station and had submitted an audio recording of the conversation between Garg and Halwai in the office of IGP at Police Headquarters. He had approached Panaji JMFC to direct ACB to register an FIR against Garg in September 2016, as no action was forthcoming. Halwai, later approached the High Court as the Special Court even a year later had not decided on the matter, whereas the HC in December 2017 asked the Special Court Panaji to decide upon the petition filed under section 156 (3) related to bribery cases against Garg in eight weeks.
Following the HC directions an order was issued by JMFC to register the FIR, which has been challenged by Garg and is currently pending before the HC. As the hearing is underway, then DIG Vimal Gupta was embroiled in a bribery allegations, this time to give a clean chit to a lady officer facing departmental inquiry. Among all the IPS officers facing allegations of corruption, only Gupta approached the court for anticipatory bail, which was granted. This corruption allegation came along with another IPS officer dragged into bribery charge by a Nigerian.
In a span of just 16 months of his posting in Goa, SP Special Branch Devesh Kumar Mahla was shunted to Mizoram whereas Gupta who was relieved by Goa government last December following allegations of bribery and awaiting posting, is transferred to Andaman & Nicobar Island. Both the orders had come in February 2018.
Both IPS officers of 2012 and 2003 batch respectively were facing allegations of corruption in different cases. Mahla, who was transferred to different units within the Goa Police Department during this period, was accused by a Nigerian of extortion and Gupta was charged with accepting bribe from a lady PSI Devyani Naik and constable to give her clean chit in a disciplinary enquiry. Although both have nearly came out clean in separate inquiries; Gupta approached the local court seeking anticipatory bail that was granted.
Mahla, who was last serving in Delhi Police, was initially transferred to Arunachal Pradesh in May 2016 but the MHA modified its order transferring him to Goa in October 2016. On the other hand, Gupta too didn’t complete his three years in the State as his relieving order from Goa Police came following allegations of corruption.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had hinted at the IPS officer’s role in the bribery case saying it was not the state government but joint cadres authority to take action into the allegation. Gupta was thus only relieved than facing suspension or police complaint.
An FIR against Gupta, PSI Naik (suspended), her husband and constable Chetan Morajkar are registered but the IPS officer has challenged the FIR against him in the high court.