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How police corruption works in Goa

How police corruption works in Goa

Sept 24, 2007: The Noida killings near the Indian capital of Delhi have shocked the entire nation and grabbed world headlines. The claimed head count of children killed in the house of Mohinder Singh Pandher, now dubbed the “house of death,” varies between 20 and 30.What has shocked the nation is the role of the police and the recent arrest of a woman police officer, together with a stash of money from bribes discovered in her house, which have exposed the corruption of the police in their failure to address the abuses that Pandher and his servant, Surendra Koli, perpetrated on innocent children in Nithari village. Here is an attempt to go behind the scenes to trace how a police officer of the rank of sub-inspector functions in Goa, a western state of India, from his recruitment to becoming part of the well-oiled bribery system, which is the legacy of every police installation. “Encounter Specialist” Daya Nayak, of the Mumbai police, was suspended after a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into his allegedly disproportionate assets revealed they exceeded his known sources of revenue. Raids on the house of someone like him, who has been the inspiration for many a Bollywood flick, revealed that he and his wife had acquired assets worth INR 41.75 lakh (US$94,671). As a sub-inspector at Charkop police station, Nayak drew a salary of only INR 9,000 (US$204 /per month). In 2003, an independent crime branch inquiry into Nayak’s assets concluded that he is involved in film financing. Further, he owned hotels in Switzerland, Dubai and Goa. That wasn’t all; he also owned at least three flats in Mumbai. Nayak hails from Mangalore, and made it big in Mumbai, gaining fame between 1998 and 2001 in gunning down 83 gangsters in allegedly staged “encounters,” which inspired the Hindi film “Ab Tak Chhappan.” Mario is a physical education teacher at a Catholic school in the State of Goa. As a youth he was a champion athlete at university and won many awards. After graduation he had his sights set on entering the police force as a police cadet. He had all the sports certificates and the physical attributes to back him up, along with his academic qualifications. Also, his father had been a freedom fighter against Portuguese colonialism. That was some twenty years ago. Mario never made it into the police force, not passing the vision requirements. It turns out that was just a pretext for the powers-that-be to get him off the list. He was competing in a field of over 50 graduates, all of whom were vying for the 15-odd posts of sub-inspector in the Goa police force. The fifteen vacancies all went to candidates who could shell out INR 1.5 lakh (US$3,400) for the posts. Mario failed to qualify as he was not ready to pay the bribe. He wanted to be a genuine police officer without paying bribes and strike at the evils in society. Instead of combating illegal activities as a police officer he ended up by lecturing kids in the classroom and passing on the skills he had learned in sports. In the last two decades a lot has changed, including the police forces. The price a new recruit into the force has to pay corrupt politicians has shot up to INR 5 lakh (US$11,338). Paresh is one such new entrant, who has just finished his two-year probation period – one year at the Nashik training academy in the western state of Maharashtra and the remaining year getting practical training at five different police stations in Goa. He is now looking for a posting at one of Goa’s numerous police precincts. His first assignment would be to work as a sub-inspector (PSI) under a police inspector (PI), who is in turn responsible to the deputy superintendent of police (DYSP). Goa has a DYSP and SP in each of the eleven talukas . Goa, in addition, has a narcotics bureau, a tourist and traffic department and now the marine police. Paresh’s parents have invested half a million rupees (US$11,338) in him in the hope that he will work it off over time. They do not hope to recover the amount through his salary, which would take some ten years. So, what is the course that Paresh could follow to recover the money his parents have invested in him to get the post? He cannot be in a hurry, needing to learn the ropes of how to extort a bribe. His first posting is in the coastal area of Colva, one of the famous beaches of Goa with a very “hectic” police station, meaning a “lucrative” posting in police parlance, in fact, the most sought-after posting in terms of potential revenue from extortion. After three months at Colva, the tourist season has just began. Paresh is on his beat, answerable to his superior, Nelson. The station officer in charge is the person who answers to his superiors whenever anything adverse occurs in his jurisdiction, so everything must be under control. That does not mean, however, that Paresh has to come down hard on the illegal activities that take place in his beat area, which would be like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. The only choice for Paresh then is to monitor violations on his beat using the feedback from his beat constables, who are acquainted with all the persons who do illegal business on the beach. Continuity is maintained even when constables and police officers are transferred, the outgoing ones introducing their replacements to the persons involved in the illegal trade. His mission is to get acquainted with all the persons who bring in the moolah for the Colva police station, which is then shared out according to rank. Head constable Anthony Gomes has prepared a list of contacts in the area for Paresh, names of new “friends,” starting with the gamblers. Pedro runs a dice game (“goddgodo”) at each of the football tournaments and tiatrs (folk dramas-ed.) in the Colva police station jurisdiction. Then comes Inacio, he is the agent for an illegal lottery known as “matka.” Then there’s John, who supplies call girls to foreign and Indian tourists. Paul is a small-time drug dealer and also runs water sports activities on the beach illegally, without permission from the Tourism Department. John is an ex-fisherman who now ferries foreign tourists to Bat Island. He does not have permission to ferry tourists nor does he adhere to safety regulations, all reasons for his name turning up on Paresh’s list. Then there’s Shiva, a hawker on the beach, speaking 15 foreign languages. But the only language police know is the language of money. Hirappa is the unofficial leader of the hawkers on the beach. For years he has been collecting bribes from them and handing it over to the beat constable concerned. Each hawker had to pay INR 100 or US$2.27 per week to the precinct and 75 INR or US$1.70 to the tourist police every day. Then there was Dominic, a teenage boy who rented scooters to tourists. Next on the list is Anthony, a partner in a beachside shack restaurant, a hot spot for late night beach parties. With late night music having to come to an end at 11 p.m., restaurant owners pay the police to keep the music and their business going without any hassles. Then there was the beach masseur, Linappa Malappa, originally from Karnataka, but for the last ten years doing business on the beach. These persons would contribute a regular stream of income to the police station during the tourist season from October to February every year. The beat constable who welcomes them also collects the take. The average monthly collection, normally around INR 2 lakh (US$4,542), has to be split with the DYSP and SP of the taluka. As for Paresh, his share would be some INR 10,000 (US$227), in addition to his regular salary. Tyson is just shy of 22 but has been innumerable times in and out of prison cells. His is a familiar face to the police, but the last time he went behind bars is now a year ago. From a juvenile to a seasoned criminal, he is now a police informant. It’s snitches like Tyson who keep Paresh happy by keeping him informed of new operators and individuals who have come on the scene. Alas, if in other areas of Indian civic life politicians are affected by the cancer of corruption and extortion, how can the police be expected to be untainted? Indeed, the police, able to prosecute bribe takers as well as well as being on the take themselves, are the biggest offenders of all. The question then comes up – who will police the police in such a situation? The judiciary’s role is limited to passing strictures on a case-by-case basis, which drastically limits its role. NOTE- some of the names have been changed to protect the identity of the persons

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