Special: When a dead man talks

CRIME PACK.jpg

The Central Crime Branch of the City police is in the eye of a storm following Pune-based businessman Ripon Malhotra’s alleged suicide on June 29 in Ashwini Nagar in Viveknagar police station limits.
His suicide note is an expose on the rot that has set in in the specialised crime branch, which was set up in 1971 with two police inspectors to assist local police in detecting cases of organised crime.
Four decades down the line, the CCB, with seven assistant commissioners of police, has become a power centre and, as many in the department themselves say, a “mafia den”.
Till very recently, postings in the CCB were reportedly up for bids, with the highest bidder getting plum posts. The hydra-headed growth of the CCB is the story of Bengaluru’s manic urbanisation, escalating land costs and the subsequent rise of the land mafia, which allegedly thrived on the blessings of their ‘friends’ in the CCB.
Besides land, illegal entertainment joints like live bands, massage parlours and dance bars, which were nothing but trafficking and prostitution dens also found their godfathers in the Branch, which was mandated to curb organised crime.
The underworld, which extorted protection money from vulnerable land-owners, bar girls and owners with one hand, paid huge hafta money running into lakhs of rupees to the “bosses”, who were accessible in the CCB and helped them run their illicit rackets, with the other.
The builders, who made a killing overnight in the booming real estate business, latched on to police officers and offered them a hefty share of the booty – land or prized flats in their luxury apartments.
The CCB, which is headed by the Police Commissioner and investigates cases on memos issued by him, even threw the chain of command to the wind and bypassed immediate seniors who refused to join hands.
Things will have to change now following Malhotra’s alleged suicide note, in which he has made very serious and damning allegations against the CCB top brass – Deputy Commissioner D. Devaraj and the former police commissioner of being “recovery agents” and demanding huge sums of money from him.
The Viveknagar police have registered a case of unnatural death under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Whether they will book an abetment case under Section 306 IPC is not known.
Malhotra’s post-mortem reportedly states “hanging” as the cause of death, but his anguished statement in the suicide note that “crime cannot finish (sic) if police become criminals” is a damning indictment of the ‘police mafia’ by a dying man.
Next: I will clean up the crime branch, says Police Commissioner

‘ I will clean up the crime branch’
Q&A with Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar
Raghavendra Auradkar tells Deccan Chronicle he will “streamline” the City Crime Branch and make it accountable for delivering on its mandate – to be the Criminal Investigation Department of the City Police.
Excerpts from an interview:
Given the allegations in Ripon Malhotra’s suicide note against the CCB --  DCP D. Devaraj and the former commissioner, in particular --  what steps will you take to clean up the Branch?
I am going to streamline the CCB and bring it back to its mandate of assisting the local police in fighting specialised and organised crime. I held a meeting with the CCB officials on Monday. We will go as per the Police Manual, which created the CCB. It is meant to be a depository of Intelligence on organised crime and assist the police in detecting crimes like homicide and burglary, trafficking of women, narcotics, fraud and economic offences, terrorism and special enquiries.
Is it a tall order to tame the CCB, which has become a power centre?
No. I will make them more accountable, with strict instructions to follow the chain of command. They have to report to the Additional Commissioner, Crime, who is an IGP rank officer. The government order clearly states that he would head the CCB. Earlier, it was a grey area. The Branch takes up cases on the memo issued by the Commissioner. They will be made more accountable. I also plan to give them more and better equipment and train them in latest technologies for quality and timely investigation.
Will heads roll in the CCB?
I can only transfer sub-inspectors in the commissionerate, additional sub-inspectors, head constables and constables. Transfer of senior IPS officers is the prerogative of the government. For officers of the rank of DSP and below, the Police Establishment Board has to decide. I am, however, going to change officials in the junior rung, who have spent long tenures in the CCB, ranging between six and eight years.
Will there be a fair investigation in Mr. Malhotra’s case?
The case is with the CID now. 

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