Mumbai: Three railway policemen allegedly extorted Rs.7,000 from a Pune-based software professional on Sunday, on the pretext that it was illegal for him to carry an adult video clip on his cellphone. One of the cops even accompanied the complainant, Sumant Pradhan , to an ATM near Dadar station so that he could withdraw the cash. Later, when they realized that a TV crew was around, they handed the money back to Pradhan. Senior inspector Prakash Kirdutt of Dadar GRP denied knowledge of such an incident.
Police threatened Pune techie with arrest, demanded Rs 33,000
Software professional Sumant Pradhan (30) had travelled to Mumbai by the Hyderabad Express from Pune with his brother and a friend. His brother had come down from their hometown, Sambalpur, in Orissa. The group wanted to visit Siddhivinayak temple at Prabhadevi. Around 1pm, they stepped out at Dadar East with their luggage. “We asked a cop for directions to the temple as we were new to the city. He brought us to a police desk where another cop sought to check our bags. I inquired if there was a terror alert in the city. Why else would they want to check our bags?” asked Pradhan.
The cop did not reply and went straight to a folder on Pradhan’s phone where videos downloaded from instant messengers are stored. “One of my friends had sent a funny video with some adult content to me sometime ago. I hadn’t seen much of the video but had forgotten to delete it from my phone. The cop told me it was illegal to store such a clip. “He put my phone in his pocket and asked if I knew anybody in Mumbai. When I said I didn’t , he took me to a room at the end of the platform ,” Pradhan said. The cop then took out a pair of handcuffs and placed it on the table. He also pulled out a newspaper clipping in Marathi and placed it before Pradhan.
“I couldn’t read the article . The cop told me it stated that commuters caught with adult content on their phone need to pay a Rs 1 lakh in fine or face 10 years in jail. I pleaded with him to let me go and promised to delete the clip. But he asked me for a 30% cut from the fine amount. I tried to get a close look at his name tag but couldn’t ,” Pradhan added. The cop had by then taken Pradhan’s identity-proof . He suggested that Pradhan withdraw whatever cash he could from an ATM nearby.
“By then another cop came up. He took me to the back of the room from where we jumped over a compound wall to reach the ATM. The second cop waited outside while I withdrew Rs 7,000 from my account. I requested them to let me keep Rs 1,000 for my expenses in Mumbai,” Pradhan said. “We went back to the room where I handed over the cash to the first cop who had my identity-proof with him. I collected my ID card and left with my brother. By then, a TV news crew came up and started asking questions to the cops as to what charge had they applied against me. The cops immediately returned my money and said they had released me on a warning.” Pradhan intends to write to the GRP commissioner about the incident. He will be returning to Mumbai on Monday with his family.
May 2011: GRP personnel pick up an IIT student at Dadar station. Three cops accuse him of storing porn on his cellphone and threaten to arrest him. They offer to let him go if he coughs up Rs 10,000
Feb 2013: A law student writes to the GRP chief about extortion by GRP constables at Mumbai Central terminus. The student shoots a video of a man pleading with a cop who demands money. GRP chief Prabhat Kumar orders an inquiry